Notes: Backing it up

Purdue's linebackers were the focus of Thursday's workout.

WEST LAFAYETTE - For sophomore Jimmy Herman, it has been the experience. For fifth-year converted quarterback Sean Robinson, it has been listening to position coach Marcus Freeman along with avoiding pizza and late-night pasta.

Those two Purdue linebackers have gotten coach Darrell Hazell's full and undivided attention through seven spring practices, including a spirited one on Thursday afternoon in the Mollenkopf Center.

"It is a group that is continually getting better," Hazell said after practice. "Obviously, we would like for them to be very physical. If they see an open door, run through it. Go downhill and make a tackle."

Herman, a 6-foot-4, 224 pounder from Carmel, senses his improvement.

"The experience helps," Herman said. "I am going into my third year now. The game has started to slow down a little bit, and I am playing a little bit faster. I see things a little bit quicker. The big thing coach Freeman has instilled in all of us is chasing perfection.

"We never are satisfied with any of our practices. It is helping us move in the right direction. With this being the second year with the staff, it makes it a lot easier."

Playing linebacker is a lot easier for Robinson now that he has begun to eat like an athlete should eat

"I have cut down on the junk foods, like eating pizzas for lunch," Robinson said. "I would even eat pasta before I went to bed. it just turned into fat. Those (conditioning) guys have me as strong as I ever have been. I feel as good as I have ever felt.

"I am comfortable, and I keep going back to Freeman. I can not speak enough about how good a coach he is. He demands so much out of his players. I respect him for that."

- Hazell confirmed Thursday that fifth-year linebacker Collin Link from West Liberty, Ohio, has been placed on scholarship.

"He deserves it," Hazell said. "He works extremely hard and has done all the things we have asked him to do, on and off the field. He is doing a nice job in the classroom. He represents Purdue the way it should be.

"He is on every single special team and will play a lot for us this year." Link appreciates the gesture and promises to be ready in the fall.

"If someone goes down, they have the confidence now to put me in there," Link said.

- After having some harsh words for his players after Tuesday's practice, Thursday's effort was much more to Hazell's liking.

"We have seven practices under our belts, and you can see progress," Hazell said. "You look at Tuesday's practice, and we had one mental mistake in 18 periods, which is unheard of. It is something you are looking for all the time.

"The guys are communicating a lot better on defense in helping each other get lined up. So, you are seeing progress each day. After Tuesday, we talked about doing the right things. They understood. They got the message."

- Sophomore tight end Carlos Carvajal has an ACL injury and could be lost for as many as six months. Hazell said Thursday that Carvajal will see another specialist for a second opinion.

- Saturday's 11 a.m. scrimmage will center on the kicking game.

"Hopefully, it will go outside Saturday, but it's supposed to be nasty weather," Hazell said. "We would like for them to get out and run around and really show the guys how the ball advances up and down the field."

- It will be the final season of eligibility for tight end Dolapo Macarthy, who the NCAA recently ruled is a senior. He hoped to be classified as a junior for athletic purposes.

"It means he has to do a great job for us this year," Hazell said. "He really has adapted to his role."

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