Barron, Blough are Purdue's pioneers

Even through adversity, Kirk Barron and David Blough stayed loyal to Purdue. It's so fitting that the two officially signed to become Boilermakers on the same day.

The lights had turned off inside the gates of Purdue's outdoor practice field. Off in the dark on a humid June night, Kirk Barron crouched into his three-point stance and snapped the ball to the hands of David Blough.

Barron, the center from Mishawaka, had just switched his commitment from Ohio to Purdue, and was too excited to leave the field. As for Blough, then a sleeper quarterback prospect from Texas, his commitment was coming the next day.

It's all too fitting that Barron and Blough faxed their letters of intent on the same day, officially joining the Purdue program. They would become the pioneers of coach Darrell Hazell's first recruiting class.

Ever since that June weekend, Barron and Blough have represented the Boilermakers to a level that would make Purdue Pete blush. They both took to Twitter working to spread their excitement for the program, both to fans and prospective recruits. An unofficial count has Barron tweeting about Purdue every day.

Weeks after Blough picked Purdue—then, his only offer—he went to the Elite 11 quarterback camp and became a national name. He impressed scouts and coaches across the country with his stellar performance, and the interest came from other schools. Blough turned it all away, staying loyal to the Boilermakers—the first to believe in him.

As the losses for Purdue kept piling up, all the way to 11, their devotion never wavered. Before each game, no matter how great of an underdog the Boilermakers were, there was Barron predicting a shocking upset. This was the program he grew to love, even in such a short time.

While freshman gunslinger Danny Etling improved in year one, Blough didn't back down from his commitment. The quarterback continued to stand by the school which took a chance on him.

The recent exits of Drue Tranquill and Denzel Ward help to better illustrate the allegiance Barron and Blough formed with their school. Tranquill couldn't turn down the shine of Notre Dame's golden dome while Ward saw better opportunity elsewhere.

It takes great faith to believe in a Boilermaker team that struggled the way it did in year one of the "Reshape. Rebuild. Return." movement. In order to reach the goals Hazell has set for the program, it takes a culture built on belief. Purdue needs players who want to be Boilermakers.

For Purdue's pioneers, it started with snapping the football on that dark practice field. Now, they're officially Boilermakers and eager to rebuild the program.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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