Purdue coach Danny Hope makes no secret about his affinity for speed.
He has placed a premium on speed during the recruiting process and thinks Purdue has tripled or quadrupled its number of players who run 4.5 or better in the 40-yard dash. Another indication of Purdue's speed upgrade came this week as the school announced six football players will participate for the Boilers track team this season.
Sophomore S Ishmael Aristide
Sophomore WR Gary Bush
Sophomore CB Normondo Harris
Freshman RB Akeem Hunt
Freshman WR Shane Mikesky
Freshman WR Raheem Mostert
There's some serious speed in the group, namely Mostert, who led the nation in kick returns this past season (33.5 ypr). Hunt averaged 8.7 yards per carry and Bush had some long receptions.
Aristide, Hunt, Mikesky, Mostert and Bush all were sprinters in high school. Bush also was a standout long jumper, while Harris finished second in the state of Florida in the triple jump. The football players are expected to participate on sprints, the long jump and the triple jump with the track squad.
"We are excited and pleased that we are reestablishing that track/football connection that has been a benefit to the track and field program in the past," Purdue track and field coach Jack Warner said.
While many Big Ten players participated in track during their high school days, few pull off double duty at the college level. You seem to see it more in other leagues than you do in the Big Ten. Michigan had several football players run track in recent years -- quarterback Denard Robinson and cornerback Troy Woolfolk among them -- but the practice has been less and less common.
It'll be interesting to see how the Purdue players perform this winter and into the spring, when they'll be juggling both track and spring football practice.