Purdue Football

Purdue Running Back Ralph Bolden Sidelined with Serious Knee Injury

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 12:   Ralph Bolden #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers runs the ball against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Tim CarySenior Analyst IApril 3, 2010

The Purdue Boilermakers' 2010 football season may have been derailed five months ahead of the opening kickoff with today's news that leading rusher Ralph Bolden has sustained a serious knee injury. 

According to multiple sources , coach Danny Hope said today that Bolden's injury (sustained during practice) will definitely keep him out the rest of the spring. If the injury is as devastating as it appears (Lafayette Journal and Courier reporter Mike Carmin says "all signs point to an ACL or something worse" ), Bolden's 2010 season could be over before it even started.

As a sophomore, Bolden rushed for 935 yards during a breakout 2009 campaign, including the third-best single-game total (234 yards) in school history during a victory over Toledo.  The 5'9" speedster was named second-team All-Big Ten and seemed poised for a truly special junior year before today's disappointing news.

The injury leaves what once appeared to be a deep Purdue backfield dangerously thin.  Fullbacks Dan Dierking and Jared Crank return, but neither player has been a big-carry guy in the past (they combined for a whopping half dozen carries in 2009). 

Highly-touted sophomore Al-Terek McBurse will most likely be the main weapon on the ground for the Boilers after contributing primarily on special teams as a rookie.  McBurse has big-play potential, but Bolden undoubtedly leaves big shoes to fill if in fact he does miss the entire year. 

Hope also told reporters that wide receiver Keith Carlos, who caught 21 passes a year ago, has been switched to running back , so the 6'1" senior could be in the mix for carries as well.

Don't discount the possible return of Justin Siller, who saw action at both quarterback and running back in 2008 before the university dismissed him due to an academic issue. 

With probable starting quarterback Robert Marve leading a three-man race under center (ahead of returning players Caleb TerBush and Rob Henry), Siller was probably going to be penciled into a non-quarterback spot anyway (since he can't re-join the team until after this semester at the earliest).  Today's news could provide some insight as to where Siller might get the most playing time should he in fact end up on the fall roster.

Wherever the leftover carries might go—McBurse, Carlos, Siller, or one of the fullbacks—the bottom line is that a great deal of the potential for Purdue's 2010 season was embodied in the Boilers' star running back.  If Bolden misses the year, the outlook has been dimmed (by a significant percentage) before the calendar even reaches the spring game.

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