WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue looked back and it looked forward Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Boilermakers looked back to the 2018 season when they handed out team awards and presented the seniors-turned-alumni with framed jerseys to officially cap their playing careers. Freshman Rondale Moore was named team MVP after one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in program history.
Outside of that ceremony, the rest of the day's festivities were focused on the future. The Boilermakers played their annual spring football game, matching up the offense and the defense in full pads in front of a few thousand fans. The defense emerged with a 53-39 win, but both sides have plenty of areas to tune up before the season-opener Aug. 31 at Nevada.
“We've got a long ways to go,” coach Jeff Brohm said. “There were a few bright spots, but in general, we've got to figure out ways to make more plays, play harder consistently the entire game, take care of the ball.
“We had a lot of young guys out here, so they're gonna make mistakes, but we've got to find ways to fight through it and see who really wants to be out here, who wants to compete.”
The Boilermakers got a look at a lot of young players because many of the returnees were sidelined with injuries. Key players such as linebackers Markus Bailey and Cornel Jones and quarterback Elijah Sindelar didn't play, giving those further down the depth chart opportunities to shine.
One player who particularly impressed was true freshman defensive end George Karlaftis. Karlaftis, a four-star recruit from West Lafayette who just turned 18 on Wednesday, had a sack and a couple of other tackles.
“I love football,” Karlaftis said. “It's like the coaches talk about it, it's like a bug, I'm obsessed with it. ... I'm still gonna be at the facility working out, 3-4 hours a day, watching film and I'm never gonna be satisfied, man, until we win a national championship here at Purdue.”
During the halftime awards ceremony, the Boilermakers also announced that going forward the football team's captains will officially be known as the Tyler Trent Team Captains, in honor of the Purdue superfan and former student who passed away in January from bone cancer at the age of 20.
It was an emotional moment for Trent's parents, who were in attendance for the game.
“We can't say enough about Purdue football and what it means to our family and what it meant to Tyler,” said Tony Trent, Tyler's father. “Really at heart, he was a reporter and he just wanted to report the game. So for his name to be forever embodied in the football program is such a blessing, it really is.”
Fans had an opportunity after the game to get autographs from players and coaches on the field. The longest line was for Moore.
He played only in the second quarter, which featured no tackling, but a procession of people hoping to go home with his autograph stretched back almost 50 yards.
There were close to 100 people still in line for Moore when the Boilermakers pronounced the autograph session closed, but Moore remained behind, patiently signing for everyone who remained.