Our series continues looking at a player or a group of players from each Big Ten team who needs a home run type of summer before preseason camp begins. Who needs to hit it out of the park in preparation for the season?
For previous entries, click here.
In the batter's box: Purdue
Who needs to step it up: The linebackers
Danny Hope could have his best team at Purdue this fall. The Boilermakers have good depth and experience, and Hope particularly likes what he's got to work with on his defensive line and in the secondary. But the linebacker spot has a few question marks. Leading tackler Joe Holland graduated. The return of Dwayne Beckford from a DUI-related suspension following spring practice should help a lot, and Will Lucas also comes back after making 82 tackles a year ago. The new defense installed by coordinator Tim Tibesar reportedly will have some 3-4 looks, which means the Boilers will need to identify some dependable players to go along with Beckford and Lucas. Purdue moved former quarterback Sean Robinson to linebacker in the spring for more depth and just signed junior-college linebacker Ruben Ibarra last week for some immediate help. Senior Antwon Higgs adds experience to a group that was not among the elite units in the Big Ten next year. Hopefully, Beckford will use his second chance wisely and take charge of the position this summer. If Purdue can make major gains at linebacker, it has a chance to field one of the better defenses in the league.