It's no secret that Purdue's secondary needs help in 2010.
All four starters from last season are gone, including safety Torri Williams, the team's tackles leader, as well as second-team All-Big Ten cornerbacks David Pender and Brandon King. Junior safety Albert Evans is one of the few returning players who saw significant field time in 2009.
I know the Boilers coaches are excited about the young players they have in the secondary, and they should be. But does anyone else think Purdue's answer at defensive back could be found a few yards away from Ross-Ade Stadium in Mackey Arena?
Chris Kramer plays basketball like a football player. It's much of the reason he's so popular among Purdue fans and almost every opposing coach he faces. The Boilers senior guard will dive for loose balls, play through a broken nose, smother an opponent's best player on the defensive end and sacrifice his body whenever possible. He twice has been named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year, and finished his career as Purdue's all-time steals leader.
As Kramer sliced through the lane Sunday for the game-winning layup in Purdue's second-round NCAA tournament game against Texas A&M, I couldn't help but think how he'd look in shoulder pads next year. Kramer was a standout safety and quarterback in high school. And since he didn't redshirt for the Boilers basketball team, he would have a season of eligibility left in football, much like Greg Paulus did at Syracuse in 2009.
I asked Kramer about playing football at the Big Ten men's basketball tournament a few weeks back, and his response was predictable.
"I haven't thought about it," he said, smiling. "We'll just take this ride for as long as it happens, and then go from there and make a decision on my future and what I want to do for the rest of my life."
If Kramer decides to pursue basketball, this is all a moot point. It has always been his favorite sport, even though some say he has a higher ceiling on the gridiron.
But if he hits a wall in hoops and wants to continue his athletic career in some form, Purdue head football coach Danny Hope and his staff should check in.
Kramer's high school football coach recently told The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier: "Had [Kramer] concentrated on football, he could have played on Sundays [in the NFL] as a safety."
He could still end being a big help on Saturdays this fall.