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Kitchens among players impressing this spring

Justin Kitchens left for spring break last week as a defensive lineman.

When he came back to Purdue's campus on Monday, he was shifted to offensive tackle.

In only one week at the position, the 6-foot-4, 271-pound Kitchens is making an impression.

"I think he can be a big-time offensive tackle," coach Danny Hope said Saturday after his team closed practice with a scrimmage. "He's extremely quick. He gets it really easy. He's a low-rep guy. He understands it. He's easy to coach. He's progressed further in three days than maybe what (defensive convert) Nick Mondek did in his first 26 practices. He's really picking it up fast. He's an outstanding athlete, and he's really smart."

Kitchens worked with the second-team offense during the scrimmage.

Second-team quarterback Caleb TerBush likes what he sees already, too.

"He's big. He's strong. He's got good feet. He's already doing things we didn't expect him to be doing for awhile," TerBush said. "He's got a really bright future ahead of him."

Hope rattled off other names when talking about players he's been impressed with this spring.

He mentioned linebacker Will Lucas, defensive linemen Ryan Russell and Bruce Gaston, defensive backs Max Charlot and Ishmael Aristide, quarterback Rob Henry and receivers Normando Harris and Justin Siller.

  • Fifth-year senior James Shepard was working with the first team line at right guard. Ken Plue has started 28 games in his career, 10 last season.

    "(Shepard) has been in the program for a long time. He's old enough and strong enough and been around enough now to do it right," Hope said. "He's always been a try-hard guy, and he has a lot of toughness about him. So he's been working with the ones. Kenny has been our No. 1 guard in the past. He's been working some with the ones, some with the twos. He has to do a better job on the field and of the field, as well. So there's some competition at that spot right now."

  • Henry had a touchdown pass to Antavian Edison, and Edison rushed for a short touchdown in the red zone portion of practice reporters were allowed to watch on Saturday. Edison also showed that versatility last season -- lining up in the backfield as well as at receiver.But having him in on the goal line?

    "We ran a power (formation), and Antavian was the running back. Coach (Gary) Nord gave it to me from the sideline and I looked at Breeze, and he's at the top and I'm thinking, 'Power with him?'" Henry said with a smile. "But he put it in there. Versatility is a good word for Antavian."