Spring Football: A Look At Linebackers

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The Boiling Point: The linebacking corps possesses plenty of experience, but needs to make more plays.

On paper, linebacker should be a strength for Purdue this season, which hasn’t been the case for the Boilers in recent years. If Purdue can get more big plays and sure up tackling at the linebacking spot, the defense can grow into a strength by the time fall rolls around.

What we know: This is one of the most experienced positions on both sides of the ball. The Boilers lose long-time ‘backer Jason Werner, but have Dwayne Beckford, Joe Holland and Will Lucas to start and all three guys have played a significant number of snaps. On top of those three likely starters, there’s also Joe Gilliam, Antwon Higgs, Chris Carlino and DeVarro Greaves who should be reliable back-ups.

What we don’t know: Experience doesn’t equal productivity and simply put this unit has lacked big-play ability for years, which is not what Purdue fans saw from linebackers through most of Joe Tiller’s coaching career. While the position hasn’t been a huge liability, it needs to be able to make more plays in pass coverage and stopping the run, especially with the departure of defensive end Ryan Kerrigan. Lucas and Gilliam are the two guys who could be the most explosive in this unit.

Moving forward: It’s all about taking the next step for this group. The talent is in place, but will Lucas continue to improve after showing promise early, will Gilliam be the player many thought he would be and will Higgs and Beckford turn the corner and become dominant players? If they do, Purdue will be in good shape.