September 12, 2007

Avril searching for groove

Slated to be Purdue's next great defensive end, converted linebacker Cliff Avril is finding that those lofty expectations are mighty difficult to reach.

The senior, who moved to down lineman for the later part of last season, has just four tackles this year with a sack in the first two games, though he has batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage. Projected to a full season, Avril would finish the year with just 24 tackles and six sacks, numbers far below what come to be expected of Purdue's No. 1 defensive end.

The list of stellar defensive ends in the Joe Tiller Era is long, from Rosevelt Colvin 10 years ago to Anthony Spencer last. Tiller says Avril has a ways to go to catch his predecessors.

"Now don't misunderstand me," Tiller said. "I'm not saying that Cliff Avril is not playing pretty good football. It's kind of like the program here, the expectation level is so high at defensive end because of his athleticism and he's supposed to be the man this year taking over for Spencer, a first rounder, those are pretty high expectations.

"Cliff is playing OK, but he's not playing at super-talent level right now. I hope as the season unfolds and we play more and more - he missed all of spring - I hope that he picks up and by the middle of the year we've got a few ohhs and awws over the some of the plays he's made."

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