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July 25, 2006

Training Camp Preview: The defensive tackles

Today, GoldandBlack.com continues its in-depth, position-by-position look at the 2006 Boilermaker football team heading into training camp. The Boilers are scheduled to report to campus for preseason practice on Aug. 6.

For the best preseason Purdue football coverage available anywhere, sign up for GoldandBlack.com's Ultimate Ticket .

Normally losing your starting two defensive tackles might be cause for a great deal of off-season consternation. That, however, wasn't so for the Boilermakers' coaching staff, which will turn to a young but talented group to take over in 2006.

Key Players

Alex Magee: Magee became the rare D-tackle during the Joe Tiller Era to see the field on Saturdays in his true freshman year. That experience will be crucial now that he slides into a starting role. A great athlete with a big frame, Magee could also see a few snaps at end.

Ryan Baker: Yes, it's true: Baker has a non-stop motor, a phrase Boilermakers coaches use ad nauseam to describe the hard-nosed sophomore. A workaholic, Baker, who also moves into a starting role, could also quickly develop into one of Purdue's top on-field leaders.

Mike Neal: After some initial reservations, Neal adapted to his new position - he had played end during high school - with ease during his redshirt freshman year. Like the rest of Purdue's young tackles, he could still stand to pack on a few more pounds.

Jared Zwilling: After a standout year on the Boilermaker scout team while redshirting, Zwilling has quickly ascended up the depth chart. Though he's not likely to challenge for a starting spot, he'll definitely figure into the rotation.

X-Factor

Jermaine Guynn: In his short time in West Lafayette, Guynn has gone from a walk-on to a valuable backup. However, injuries slowed his progress significantly last season. Although he's a little undersized, Guynn can be counted on to fight to the best of his ability on every down.

Best Competition: How exactly do you effectively rotate five quality defensive tackles? It's a good problem to have, much better than two seasons ago when Brandon Villarreal and Brent Grover were forced to play virtually every snap. Because of their experience - it's limited, but still more than the others - Magee and Baker are probably fairly well entrenched as starters. Still, it's probably not a foregone conclusion either.

Lowdown: Tiller and staff haven't worried much about the D-tackles and with good reason. Though extremely young - they have only a combined four starts - there's little reason to think this group can't succeed. Still with tremendous upside, the best has yet to come.

The Roster Rundown

• Ryan Baker - 6-5, 282, So.
• Jermaine Guynn - 6-1, 277, So.
• Alex Magee - 6-5, 275, So.
• Mike Neal - 6-4, 270, R-Fr.
• Kyle Sheehan - 6-3, 251, Fr.
• Jared Zwilling - 6-4, 281, R-Fr.

Past Position Previews:
The defensive ends

For the best preseason Purdue football coverage available anywhere, sign up for GoldandBlack.com's Ultimate Ticket .




Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.


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