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April 10, 2009Things just don't seem to come easy for Ryan Kerrigan.
After overcoming a preseason ankle injury to star as a sophomore in 2008, the defensive end's winter was dealt a similar nuisance.
Kerrigan is recovering from a bout with mononucleosis.
"I came into spring pretty badly out of shape," Kerrigan said, "so I've just been trying to work myself back into shape, so when our summer conditioning work starts, I'll be ready."
A starter who can safely be described as one of the defense's top players, Kerrigan said he missed the final month of winter workouts leading into spring ball.
He dropped about 15 pounds while sick.
"It was a setback," Kerrigan said, "but I had the ankle setback last year and I worked my way through that, so I'm going to do the same thing with this."
Injured in training camp last August, Kerrigan sustained a sprained ankle, the kind of thing that can linger for weeks and weeks and perhaps even mar an entire season.
You wouldn't have known it, though.
After coaches fretted throughout camp about their emerging young defensive lineman's health, Kerrigan got back in time to play in the season opener and every game thereafter.
After playing as a reserve against Northern Colorado, Kerrigan started the final 11 games, looking like a budding star as he recorded 56 tackles, 11-and-a-half of them for loss, with a team-high seven sacks, plus two forced fumbles, four breakups and an interception.
Kerrigan was named honorable-mention All-Big Ten by the media and should contend in 2009 for all-conference honors once again, it's thought.
Now a junior, Kerrigan almost reluctantly concedes that he played well last season.
"But it was tough to enjoy," he said, "because we were 4-8 and home for December."
Kerrigan might have had that same sickly sensation coming into spring practice.
"He lost a lot of weight," Coach Danny Hope said, "and came out here feeling kind of puny. He'd go hard, but couldn't hold up as well."
But once again, Kerrigan's rounding back into form. He's put back a third of the 15 pounds he shed, reserving the rest to be re-added during Purdue's summer strength program.
The junior currently weighs about 250 pounds after playing around 260 last season.
"He's done a great job getting his stamina back," Hope said, "and he's starting to look bigger and stronger like he normally does.
"I don't think he's 100-percent yet, but he's come a long way in a short period of time. He's going to be a heck of a player."
After practicing in shells - shoulder pads, but not full gear - on Friday, Purdue will conduct another important scrimmage Saturday morning.
"I'm interested to see how we throw and catch," Hope said. "That's the area where we have the furthest to go."
Hope said his team will run about 150 plays Saturday, with an emphasis on special teams.
Purdue will scrimmage again Monday and Wednesday. The Boilermakers' spring game is next Saturday.
Among the numerous recruits at practice Friday was weekend official visitor Robert Marve, a quarterback who's transferring from Miami.
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