Purdue's McBurse not expected to return

Purdue running back Al-Terek McBurse isn't expected to return to the team for the 2011 season, coach Danny Hope told The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier on Thursday.

A team spokesman confirmed that McBurse hasn't been participating in winter workouts the past few weeks but remains enrolled in school. McBurse entered the 2010 season as Purdue's top running back but missed two games with a toe injury and slipped behind Dan Dierking and others on the depth chart. He finished the year with 189 rush yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and added five receptions for 30 yards.

Purdue planned to move McBurse to wide receiver, but Hope doesn't think the move led to the departure. McBurse, who headlined Purdue's 2009 recruiting class, could be heading closer to his home in Florida.

"He doesn’t have any problems with his coaches, his teammates or his head coach," Hope told the Journal and Courier.

The Boilers hope Ralph Bolden can carry the load at running back as he comes off of ACL surgery. Purdue loses both Dierking and Keith Carlos, but McBurse's move to receiver suggests the staff isn't overly concerned about backfield depth.

Hope isn't closing the door on a McBurse return but tells the Journal and Courier, "He has to make a bunch of workouts up to get caught up. I don’t see it going in that direction."

Meanwhile, there's still no word from the NCAA on whether All-Big Ten receiver Keith Smith will receive a sixth year of eligibility. Last week, NFL.com reported that Smith would get an answer from the NCAA on Monday, but Hope told the Journal and Courier that no decision has been finalized.

It would really be a shame if Smith can't get a sixth year at Purdue. He appeared in only two games last fall before tearing ligaments in his right knee.