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Purdue's Hazell ratchets up football workout intensity

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For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Tough approach personified by running back recruits

Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 8:18 am

Darrell Hazell isn't messing around with Purdue's football winter conditioning.

He's ratcheted up the intensity, discipline and structure from the Danny Hope era. He wants a tougher and tougher minded group from previous years, a necessity considering the goal is a Rose Bowl return.

This is the first step.

Bringing in tough-minded players is another step, and no position requires more of it than running back. The Boilers signed four of them -- three-star prospects Lake Central High School's David Yancey, Louisville's Dalyn Dawkin, Georgia's Keyonte Green and Keith Byars II from New York.

Byars is the son of former Ohio State and NFL running back Keith Byars. Dawkins' uncle, Brian Dawkins, and his father, Ralph Dawkins, played in the NFL.

“The thing that stands out to me is we have every kind of dynamic -- a physical guy, a guy who can change the game with speed and quickness,” running backs coach Jafar Williams said.

“Keith Byars has a high ability to play physical. He's a high-motor kid. His (leg) turnover is extremely fast. He's mentally and physically tough.

“Dawkins is extremely fast. He's a home-run guy who can play in the slot. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He wants to be viewed as a running back. He has star power in his genes.

“The first thing that stands out about Green is how big his neck is. He wears like a size 19 shirt. He leans his head on people and nobody wants to tackle him. He brings a very physical presence and, at this position, you can't get enough of those kind of guys. He can take the pounding and deliver some blows.

“The key with Yancey is how intelligent he is. He played quarterback his junior year, and if a guy plays quarterback you know he understands the game. He has so many positive qualities. He has great speed. He runs extremely physical. He's a back of all trades. You can give him the ball 10 to 15 times a game and he can be very effective.”

With spring practice set to start next month, Hazell is close to wrapping up his assistant coaching staff with the hiring of Gerad Parker as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Parker spent the previous two years as the wide receivers coach at Marshall. The Thundering Herd led the Football Bowl Subdivision in passing offense, averaging 365.1 yards a game.

“Gerad is just what I was looking for in our tight ends coach,” Hazell said in a university release. “He's a young and energetic coach with passing game experience. His background will help with the development of some very special tight ends in our program. His addition brings another smart, well-organized coach with a passion to make Purdue great to our staff.

Last season Gerad coached receiver Tommy Shuler, who averaged 9.2 catches and 94.8 yards a game. Against Purdue last fall Shuler caught 19 passes for 200 yards.

Gerard previously coached at the University of Tennessee-Martin as passing game coordinator, recruiting coordinator, wide receivers coach and running backs coach.

Also, Purdue and Nevada will play a home-and-home series. The Boilers will host the Wolfpack in 2016, and then play at Nevada in 2019.

Nevada is coached by Brian Polian, the son of former Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian. The elder Polian was part of the advisers Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke consulted in the coaching search that led to Hazell's hiring.

Hazell still has a defensive line coach to hire.