WEST LAFAYETTE – Chris Barclay needed someone to take on the leading role in the backfield.
Purdue’s running backs coach didn’t have many options, but he’s seen an emerging presence in the position in all six spring practices to date.
It is not a surprise.
King Doerue led Purdue in errands and yards last season and is the only spring training running back to have a carry in a Boilermaker uniform, but the elder is now in a new role after Zander Horvath pursued his dreams in the NFL.
“I’m starting to see some leadership from him,” Barclay said. “Now that Zander has moved on, he’s the most experienced guy in the room, so he helps other guys in the room.”
Doerue had 135 carries for 557 yards last season and took on a more prominent role on offense when Horvath missed four games with injury.
It benefits him to move forward with an extremely thin position group at the moment, although he could still be strengthened through the transfer portal.
“I think I’m the oldest guy in the room,” Doerue said. “I try to lead by example and bring the other guys in because at the end of the day we’re going to need everyone. … With Zander injured, unfortunately I had to step in and get us to carry on and do what I needed for us to win.”
It doesn’t matter who or how many are running backs, Purdue will throw you out, throw the first offense. The Boilers averaged just 2.8 yards per carry last season, which will need to improve in 2022.
While the running back position is currently slim for the Boilermakers, here’s who could factor into the depth at the position in the fall:
Carmel’s redshirt second carried 44 times for 178 yards and a touchdown last season after being traded from UNLV. He did it while managing a shoulder injury.
After having surgery on his injured shoulder, Downing is not participating in spring training, but expects to be someone who will turn up for the Boilermakers in the fall.
“It was important for us to get him back healthy. He’s kind of been bumped all year with that shoulder,” Barclay said. “I’m excited to see where he will be when he comes back. He’s losing weight. He looks great. …
“I want him a bit lighter. I don’t want him in that full-back role, I want the ball in his hands. I’m also delighted with what he can bring.”
The former Indiana running back, who helped the Hoosiers beat Purdue in 2019 with 118 rushing yards and a touchdown, was traded to Purdue before last season, but not in time to be eligible for the plan. athletic.
The former Avon star was trading reps with Doerue in Monday’s open practice. He’s still learning the playbook. Doerue helped with that.
“Sampson looks good,” Doerue said. “He’s a physical runner. He’s really physical. He’s good on his feet. He’ll be really good for us.”
Yet another transfer from the Indianapolis area, Tracy was a star at Decatur Central and played two seasons at Iowa as a catcher. There, Tracy caught 29 passes, including two touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown last season.
Tracy will also be a receiver with the Boilermakers, but could be used as a fullback with his versatility and athleticism. It could be a role similar to the one Jackson Anthrop served last season.
“He’s Jackson at least. He’s got to get at least six or seven carries a game,” Barclay said. “He’s got real tools to work with. He’s got a lot of perspective on his past. What I like about him is that he’s tough. He’s a 205-pound kid and he’s got good speed “He’s got good hips, he’s got contractions. Some instincts, he’s natural there. It’s about getting him to come back more often so he can kind of dust off the cobwebs of his game. “
A sophomore from Boonville, Mockobee rushed for over 3,500 yards and 45 touchdowns in high school, including 1,820 yards and 24 touchdowns in just eight games as a senior in the fall of 2020.
Mockobee received reps during spring training.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise in six training sessions this spring,” Barclay said. “We had confidence in him just watching him in high school, operating, he had a lot of production with the ball in his hands.
“With the ball in his hands, he’s a little slippery. He’s got good instincts and skills. He’s got solid speed. He’s one of those guys who’s going to be tough to tackle with. It’s just very slippery in there and does a good job of finding the really tough yards.
Redshirt sophomore Caleb Lahey did not play in a game for the Boilermakers. Purdue could also find help in the transfer portal. The Boilers signed two running backs in the 2022 class, Kentrell Marks and Terence Thomas, both from Ohio.