The Purdue Boilermakers are injecting new life into their program following a disappointing 6-7 season in 2012, starting with a new head coach in Darrell Hazell. The hope is that Hazell, with his promise of a clean slate across the board, will invigorate the underachieving roster. No Boilermaker could benefit more from that fresh start than defensive end Ryan Russell, who must finally live up to his potential in 2013.
Big things were expected out of Russell when he came to Purdue, but so far he has failed to deliver. Last season, he finished second on the team in sacks, bringing the quarterback down four times as part of 8.5 tackles for loss. He added just one other quarterback hurry on the season, meaning that Russell just isn’t doing a good enough job getting into the backfield.
He will need to figure it out in 2013, however, if Purdue has any shot of improving on defense next season. Kawaan Short led the team in sacks a year ago with seven, but is no longer on campus. Also gone from the Purdue defensive line is Robert Maci who recorded a pair of sacks on his own. Someone must step up and replace that lost production and Russell needs to be the man to get it done.
Hazell has no loyalty to Russell since he wasn’t the man who recruited him, so he will have no hesitation about replacing Russell in the starting lineup if he finds someone else who can get after the quarterback more consistently. Russell has the potential to be one of the premier pass-rushers in the Big Ten, but he has to put it together sooner rather than later.