On this Thanksgiving I thought that it would be the perfect time for the annual senior post. I started this last season, and I think I will keep the tradition going. This is the game that is always hardest to leave. The last football game of the season. Sure they play something resembling football in the spring, but the sparse crowd tells you that it isn’t football. The other reason I usually linger is because it is the last time you will see some of the players in a Purdue uniform. Some may go on to have careers in the NFL so you can see them play again. For the most part though this is the last time these guys will suit up to play.
No matter what you think of the players this is the day to put it aside. I can’t get out of my head how stupid some fans were in 2008 to boo Curtis Painter as he was announced on senior day. The guy is playing his last game and with his parents getting honored on the field. You want to boo him because in your mind he could have done better? If you don’t like a college athlete that badly that you can’t contain yourself please come to the game late Saturday. We really don’t need you in the stands booing college kids you think aren’t any good. These guys have sacrificed a lot in the time they have been at Purdue so treat them with respect on their final day in a Boilermaker uniform. Alright somebody help me down off this soapbox so I can finish this post. Here are the guys who will be in Gold and Black for the final time Saturday.
#8 Keith Smith – I will start with Keith because he will probably be back. Like Torri Williams and Jason Werner before him Keith may be back for a sixth season. I really hope that Keith does get granted a sixth season because he has some unfinished business here at Purdue. He was playing at such a high level when he was injured that it was hard to watch. I can only imagine that he wants to come back and prove himself to the NFL as well. He came to the school as a quarterback, was moved to safety when Torri Williams went down in 2006. The next season he took a redshirt and was moved to receiver. That is when things started to click for Keith. He really has become a dynamic receiver that Purdue needs. It will be nice to have him back along with all the young receivers that are coming back. He has stayed with the team after his knee injury, and on Saturdays you can see him on the sidelines coaching his fellow receivers. He is the guy that you go to when the game is on the line.
#16 Jeff Panfil – Jeff came to Purdue as a quarterback and was switched to the tight end position after a short stop at receiver. That is why he has such a weird number for a tight end. The switch did not help Jeff much, and he has not seen the field like he may have anticipated. Injuries have kept him back the last couple of years. One thing I do know is that in 2006 if you played a dynasty on the NCAA college football game Jeff was a stud by his senior year. He was an all everything quarterback.
#88 Jeff Lindsay – Jeff switched positions since coming to Purdue as well. He came to the school as a linebacker, but was switched to tight end. In fact in the picture above he still has his linebacker number on. Jeff is a very athletic tight end that can make the big play. His 56 yard catch against Michigan last season is probably his biggest highlight so far. He has provided several for us over the years though.
#24 Jason Werner – Jason is finishing up his sixth season in a Boiler uniform. His first few were injury ridden. He was full of promise, but never healthy enough to see the field. He has provided leadership though when he has been on the field. Last season he started every game for Purdue and was 25th in the Big Ten in tackles. He has taken some grief with his teammates for his age, but sometimes you need this kind of a guy on your team. Especially when you have young linebackers waiting for time. He has been slowed down by injuries a little this season, but should be on the field Saturday for his final game.
#1 Keith Carlos – Keith is playing his final game as a Boilermaker after probably having his finest game as a Boilermaker. His electric 80 yard run against Michigan State last week propelled him to a 100 yard rushing game. Keith came to Purdue as a receiver, but switched to tailback out of necessity. The team was so thin there that he was needed. Of course then he was hurt and missed the first few games of the season. He looks to be hitting his stride now though.
#72 Justin Pierce – Justin has had an up and down career at Purdue. He played in 11 games his freshman season, and then saw very little playing time his sophomore and junior years. He has played this season though giving the line a much needed senior presence.
#7 Cortez Smith – How much pain has he played in this season? From square one Smith has been hobbling on the field. I don’t know how many times that I thought he was done, then he would fly down the field. His big 76 yard catch against Ball State is probably his highlight for most this season. He took the deflected pass almost in stride to the house. I thought that his nine yard touchdown run earlier in the game was much more impressive. He left four or five bodies in his wake there. This is all after hobbling most of the game. I think he must do it to psych out his opponents. He is a game changer that will be missed.
#85 Kyle Adams – Here is a guy that you can’t stop raving about. He is a solid tight end on the field, an Academic All American in the classroom, and a great guy in real life. He even wears a pretty good football number if you ask me. This is the kind of guy that you want representing your school. His mission trips give him national publicity, but I have a feeling he could do without that kind of acknowledgement. I doubt he does it to get on television. He could get on TV playing on Saturday. I hope that he is successful in whatever he does after school. Did I mention that I think he is a good guy?
#96 John Finch – Along with fellow senior Kris Staats and kicker Carson Wiggs, John makes up part of ‘the blur.’ John is the long snapper for the team. He is a former walk on that was awarded a scholarship for his senior season. If you want to see how good special teams can be go back and watch the film from the Michigan game this season. In terrible conditions John made sure the ball was right where it needed to be every time. I know that most people overlook the long snapper (until one goes over someone’s head of course), but John has done a great job all season.
#87 Kris Staats – Here is a guy to root for. First off he is a former LaPorte Slicer. In 2005 I moved back to LaPorte, and went to a few Slicer games. Staats was lighting up opponents that year. He left with a few school records in his back pocket. I am sure that he could have gone to other places and played right away, but he chose to walk on to the squad at Purdue. He first got on the field in 2007 against Eastern Illinois. Of course the team was so far ahead that game that they were not passing the ball. In 2008 he became a huge part of the operation when Curtis Painter was injured. The team needed someone to hold for field goals, and apparently Kris was the backup. He has had the job ever since doing a great job. As with Finch go back and watch the Michigan game film for an example of how it is done. It takes great hands and concentration to get the ball down every time, and Kris gets it done.
#94 Ryan Kerrigan – What more can you say about this guy? I have already written an entire post dedicated to just how great Ryan is. If you missed it you can find that here. I won’t rant and rave here about how he was left off the final lists for some postseason awards (I’m looking at you Lombardi and Nagusrski). Ryan will leave Purdue at the top of many defensive stats. What stats don’t pick up is the havoc that he causes on the field. His presence makes the quarterback throw quicker. He may not get to him every time, but he is in the quarterbacks face quite a bit. He is a force that we will talk about for a long time.
#25 Dan Dierking – You had to know that Danny would be saved for last. Dan has been impacting games at Purdue since he first set foot on the field. If you don’t believe me go back and watch him on kickoffs early in his career. The best part about kickoffs was watching Dan run 100 mph and almost always make the stop. I included the picture of one of my favorite moments on Dierking’s above. Danny was actually tackled on a kickoff by a blocker, but still made the tackle. The picture is not the best quality, but it shows one of Dan’s best qualities. He never gives up. How many players listed at 5’10” 186 pounds do you see playing fullback? Not many. How many played it as well as Dan? He is undersized, but still managed to get the job done over guys much bigger than him. Before the season I was going to make some Dierking for Heisman shirts, but did not. After watching him play all season I wish that I had done it. I loved the Elliot shirts that the guys behind me had last year, and wanted to do something similar for Dierking. He has been fun to watch for four years that is for sure.
I have left out four seniors from this list. I do not mean to slight them at all, but I have never seen them play and I do not know much about them. Rather than butcher something up I just decided that it would be best to leave them off the list.