December 20, 2006

Pender jumping out

Count freshman cornerback David Pender among those young players who've benefited thus far from the pre-bowl practices coaches so covet.

"What he really needs is reps," Coach Joe Tiller said of the rookie defensive back. "He's getting (a lot of) them now, and you're seeing him improve."

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound cornerback came to Purdue as a spectacular athlete - a nine-time track and field champion in Georgia - but a less-than-polished football commodity.

Ideally, Pender would have redshirted this season, a statement that can probably be made for any of the four true freshmen who played in the Boilermaker secondary this season, thanks largely to injuries and attrition.

Forced to the field, Pender played all season in a reserve role before starting, and playing most of the game, at Hawaii, an experience both he and secondary coach Lou Anarumo called an "awakening" for the young player.

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