Coming into the season, Coach Hope told us that his team had the nation's most-exciting kicker, one of the best cornerbacks in the country, a defensive end that was going to be healthy and one of the best at his position in the nation, a pair of defensive tackles that were two of the best in the league, a possession receiver that would rival the best in the conference and we heard about a quarterback that the coaching staff and teammates alike say has one of the best arms they've ever witnessed.
Sounds like a pretty good place to start on the road toward success. But, in spite of spinning a positive story, not many individual players received post-season accolades.
Ricardo Allen, Cody Webster and Carson Wiggs were all named to the second team.
A lot of people on the message boards took umbrage with Allen being left off of the first team. His stats were pretty solid- 71 tackles and 3 interceptions...one returned for a touchdown. But, he was picked on from time-to-time during the season when matched up with experienced and physically-gifted receivers. I think one could fairly argue that it's pretty tough to shut anybody down when there's little-to-no pass rush (an epidemic that plagued Purdue's defense for large chunks of the season) and safety help was inconsistent at best. BUT, in spite of being a very good corner, he's not a shut-down corner...yet. He's got two more years in gold and black...so I think he'll become what many thought he'd be this season...but it didn't happen in '11.
Wiggs leg strength and natural ability is undebatable. But, his lack of concentration this season probably kept him off of the first team this year. Webster crushed the ball, but didn't get as many chances to punt since Wiggs punted the most he had since a few seasons ago.
Dennis Kelly, Joe Holland and Dwayne Beckford all were on the Honorable Mention teams. I think Kelly and Holland could both get paid to play next year. Kelly is big, athletic, smart and nasty on the field...but a shuffled OL due to Plue's late pre-season scratch strained the experienced line. Holland and Beckford were both sure tacklers (they were second and first on the team in tackles, respectively) and hard-hitters. But, for the first third of the season, they were burnt like poptarts while in pass coverage...something I really blame on Emanuel more than these two LBs.
Other guys that weren't noticed by enough people outside of the Purdue family were Ralph Bolden (4.5 yds/carry, over 1000yds of offense, 6 TDs...no fumbles lost), Antavian Edison (10yds/touch, 700 yards of offense, 5 TDs...and he did everything he was asked to do) Josh Johnson (2 INT, 8 broken up & 61 tackles), Raheem Mostert (713 return yards, 31yds/return) and Albert Evans (1 INT & 68 tackles...after a really lousy start to the season). The good news is that all of these guys have a chance to get noticed next year...except Evans who graduates...and we're still awaiting word on Bolden's status.