Monday, July 18, 2011

Matt Chandik's Purdue Player to Watch

It’s a program that’s usually known as the Cradle of Quarterbacks and it’s usually better known as an offensive school, but Purdue’s been able to produce some good defensive players over the years. Rod Woodson is obviously one of the more famous defensive Purdue alums, but the Boilermakers have enjoyed some decent success of late, sending the likes of Roosevelt Colvin and 2011 Washington Redskins first-round pick and reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kerrigan to the pros.

My pick for 2011 Purdue Breakout Player of the Year also comes from the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Ricardo Allen enjoyed a tremendous rookie season, one that saw him garner a second-team All-Big 10 nod from the media and an honorable mention pick from the league coaches. The Florida native surprisingly chose Purdue over more celebrated programs like Florida State, Michigan, Clemson and South Carolina and proved the validity of those offers with his play as a freshman.

His most memorable stretch came against Michigan and Michigan State. Allen intercepted a Denard Robinson pass and took it back 94 yards for a touchdown against the Wolverines. A week later, Allen picked off MSU’s Kirk Cousins and took that pass back for a 35-yard touchdown. He also added an interception earlier in the year in a win against Ball State.

I expect Allen to emerge as one of the Big 10’s top corners and make a run at first-team All-Big 10. He’s undersized at around 5-9, 180 pounds, but he’s aggressive, smart and instinctive. He had 73 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and also added a sack last year. He should improve on those numbers, though the interception numbers might plateau if teams start avoiding him. I’ll say 82 tackles, four picks and five tackles for loss.

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