To help commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Purdue's magical turnaround 1997 season, GoldandBlack.com's staff will break up the rosters and select the best players to wear a Boilermaker uniform since Coach Joe Tiller's first season on the sidelines.
GoldandBlack.com's 20-year Purdue player draft will have 100 players chosen — two picks each weekday over 10 weeks. Boilermakers who were on Purdue rosters between 1997-2017 are eligible for selection. The draft order is Alan Karpick, Stacy Clardie, Kyle Charters and Brian Neubert.
Clardie fills the first spot in the backfield.
Draft ticker: Nos. 1-81
Finally time to address the non-existent offensive backfield, with only a handful of picks to go. I'll definitely take two running backs, so it'll be a tandem-type deal, which I think makes the most sense with the remaining guys on the board.
Let's just get this out of the way: This pick isn't Edwin Watson because I don't really know anything about the guy and, as I've said all along in this draft, I'm going to tend toward picking people I've seen with my own eyes, perhaps unless the numbers are ridiculous. (Like Tim Stratton, for example.)
Instead, I'm going with Ralph Bolden here — the healthy version, of course — who should have had 1,000 yards in 2009 had it not been for an unfortunate injury in the second-to-last game against Illinois. Don't think I'll ever forget watching Bolden race up the sideline, outdistance every defender only to have to veer out of bounds when he tweaked his hamstring. Though he started the next week against IU, he wasn't able to finish and, thus, didn't reach 1,000.
But, still, that season was good enough to earn second-team, All-Big Ten honors with 935 yards rushing while averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
Though Bolden wasn't particularly fast, he was quick enough and had enough shake to avoid tacklers, especially on the perimeter. And though maybe he's wasn't particularly big, he was physical enough, too, to absorb hits, bounce off and slip through for more yards.
It's too bad Purdue fans didn't get to see more of him healthy — he missed all of the 2010 season with a knee injury and blew out his knee again in 2011 (not until rushing for nearly 700 yards and six TDs, though) and didn't play a full season in 2012.
Even with those injury issues, Bolden still had 1,967 career rushing yards, a 4.7 yards-per-carry career average and 15 career rushing TDs. That's, essentially, in two seasons' worth of work.
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