August 3, 2009

Will Purdue make cut for DT?

Although he's two weeks from narrowing his list down to five finalists, Chicago three-star defensive tackle Bruce Gaston Jr. indicates Purdue's got a great shot to make the cut.

The 6-foot-2, 290-pound senior at St. Rita High School unofficially visited West Lafayette on Wednesday and came away impressed by what the Boilermakers had to offer.

"I really like them," he said. "I can say that. I really do like Purdue. … Within these two weeks, I'm going to announce my top-five, so that way everyone will know who stands where."

Making the final list won't be easy for any school, considering Gaston has an offer sheet that includes 14, with Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota, among them.

But Purdue, led by Midwest recruiter Mark Hagen, has put itself in a good position it seems, thanks to a couple of unofficial visits by Gaston. The latest, he says, went well.

"They showed me everything," Gaston said. "… I saw more stuff on this trip, so it was really nice.

"They showed me more in-depth stuff. … I talked to the athletic director, met with the coaches again, sat down with Coach (Danny) Hope, watched the D-line work out a little bit, which I kind of wanted to do, and we just went over everything again because it's such a great experience."

Gaston's trip to Purdue might be one of his last unofficials this summer, as football practice at St. Rita begins Aug. 12. But he made plenty of trips previously, including to Iowa, Notre Dame and Illinois, plus others.

"Mainly the ones that are nearby," Gaston said. "I haven't had really been too far out, which is something I kind of regret. I'm going to try, but I can't promise anything, but I'm going to try (to get to those places)."

Gaston, a 3.0 GPA student who plans to major in criminal justice, says the qualifications to be one of his finalists are pretty simple. He just wants to find a place where he feels comfortable.

"I look for location, where is it located, what kind of environment is the college around?" he said. "Is it a true college town type of environment? I also look at it academically. If something happens down the road, where I injure myself and can never play football again, will I still be able to be happy at that school?"

It's easy to see why schools are enamored with Gaston. He's got good speed - 5.2 in the 40-yard dash - for a man of his size. As a junior last season, he collected 40 tackles and two sacks.

"My strengths are my size and speed," he said when asked to describe his skills. "I'm big but I'm also able to move really well. I carry my weight really well, which a lot of coaches really like because you usually don't get that dual threat. You usually get one or the other: a big guy that you have to kind of work on the speed, or a mid-sized guy who has to work on the size.

"But I feel like I'm the full package, big, can move fast, very physical."

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