Darrell Hazell has nowhere to go but up after a rough debut as the head coach of the Purdue Boilermakers in 2013. After finishing the year just 1-11 and 0-8 in Big Ten play, Purdue is ready to start building a winning program again this fall. For that to happen, Hazzell will have to find significantly more touches for speedster Raheem Mostert.
The senior Boilermaker is fresh off a wildly successful track season where he brought home two conference titles during the indoor season before sweeping the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the Big Ten outdoor track and field championships last week. His success with the track team has rekindled Mostert’s confidence, which he carried with him during spring practice with the football team and will serve him well in 2014.
Hazzell recognizes the talent he has with Mostert, saying he’s going to be “an elite football player for us this fall” and saying that he plans to “have him touch the ball 20-plus times a game.” That will be a huge increase in carries for the senior who has touched the ball on offense just 44 times over three seasons, including 12 times in 2013.
Part of the problem, according to Hazzell, was that Mostert was “miscast” as a slot receiver for his first two seasons on campus. By the time Hazzell identified that Mostert would be better utilized as a running back, it was late into fall camp and the speedy playmaker was buried on the depth chart and relegated to making his impact on special teams.
But that won’t be the case in 2014. Mostert has spent a full season and offseason getting acclimated to the running back position and will be a featured weapon for Purdue this fall. Can his game-breaking speed provide a much-needed spark to the Boilermakers offense this season?