Spring has sprung: Five Boilers to watch

With spring practice around the corner, Boiler Sports Report looks at five Boilermakers that need big springs.

The spring brings the chance for unheralded players to shine in front of the coaches' eyes. The depth charts are expanded to get reps all across the roster.

For Purdue, following a brutal 1-11 season, many answers will come during the team's 15 practices. Some young Boilermakers will get the chance to earn some valuable reps and work into important roles.

A team still surrounded with uncertainty will get a good look at much of its future during the spring. But which players will be interesting to follow throughout the spring? Boiler Sports Report takes a look at five.

1.) David Blough, freshman quarterback – Arriving on campus early will be the best thing for new Boilermaker David Blough. Just as likely starter Danny Etling did one year ago, Blough will have the chance to learn and grow in Purdue's offense, getting a head start to his football education.

Blough's role with the 2014 Boilermakers likely won't be decided until the fall. He could win over the starting job, but will likely be redshirted. Either way, the spring will provide important opportunities for the newest Purdue quarterback. It will be fun to watch his development through 15 practices.

2.) Jason King, sophomore guard – On an offensive line filled with problems last season, Purdue must find continuity during the spring. Without its likely two starters at tackle joining until August, this will be difficult to do. Still, roles will be filled at guard and center during the spring. One of the likely new starters at guard will be Jason King.

This spring will be important for King, once a promising prospect who has shown strong development during his time on campus. King has shown the abilities to be a starter for the Boilermakers' front line. This spring will offer him the chance to prove it in front of the coaches.

3.) Langston Newton, sophomore defensive end – Coming to the Purdue program on a transfer from Kentucky, Langston Newton will have the chance to show the coaches what he can do. Now approved by the NCAA to play immediately in West Lafayette, it's important that Newton gets off to a fast start with the Boilermakers.

The spring will be Newton's chance to learn, to make mistakes, and to grow into Purdue's systems. It's a critical time for the Boilermakers' newcomer on the defensive line.

4.) Robert Gregory, sophomore safety – Maybe Robert Gregory will finally find a home at safety. The high school quarterback has played running back and wide receiver for Purdue, but is now slotted at safety, a position where Purdue is very thin. The spring will offer Gregory the chance to learn with practice reps.

There's no doubting that Gregory has plenty of natural talent, but he hasn't been able to show it in a stable situation. Now, at safety, Gregory has the chance to stay at home in a position.

5.) Jimmy Herman, sophomore linebacker – Perhaps Purdue's linebacking core hasn't yet arrived on campus. The slew of promising freshmen will provide a big boost for the Boilermakers. But without Gelen Robinson and JaWhaun Bentley in West Lafayette, sophomore Jimmy Herman has the chance to win over a starting job without interference.

Herman is a raw talent, but hasn't yet molded into the linebacker which Purdue has hoped for. Coach Marcus Freeman is a great mentor for the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder. Herman will be able to get many reps during the spring, and can get a head start on the freshmen coming to campus for the fall. This spring is very important for him.

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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