Purdue University

1981 - 83 Boilermakers
(Authentic Reproduction)




Coach Young stayed through the 1981 season, a bit of a downer at 5-6 and after a year of administrative work at Purdue, left for a very successful tenure at West Point where he turned around that sagging program. His ability to resuscitate poor collegiate teams made this former Bowling Green player a College Football Hall Of Famer. Young dressed the team in an upgraded uniform design, the old gold helmet now sporting an interesting center stripe that consisted of a three-quarter-inch black stripe flanked by one-eighth-inch white bordering stripes that were very attractive. The black Purdue "P" on each side was bordered in white which made it more outstanding and again the black masks were used. The improved defense had its strength in the linebackers with All Big Ten Brock Spack the leader. Scott Campbell was called upon to fill the void left by QB Mark Herrmann and he did the job, finishing sixth in NCAA pass efficiency and throwing for 2666 yards. Steve Bryant was an oft-found target. Jimmy Smith led a mediocre ground attack with 540 yards. Tom Jelesky was an All Big Ten tackle. At the end of the season, Young voluntarily resigned and defensive coordinator Leon Burtnett took the reins for 1982. The 3-8 finish was a disaster as the defense fell apart. Frosh safety Ray Wallace was forced to make eighty-five tackles as injury-plagued Brock Spack could not carry the linebacking corps by himself. Campbell acquitted himself well, moving into second-place on the impressive Purdue QB list in total yards and TD's. All Conference TE Cliff Benson caught fifty of the aerials.
Coffeyville Kansas JC transfer Mel Gray rushed for more than 900 yards but was as big a threat catching out of the backfield and as a special teams return man.  '83 offered a great statistical tally but another three-win season, with the Boilermakers finishing at 3-7-1. Campbell closed out his collegiate career with a total of 7636 yards and was the seventh-round draft pick of the Steelers where he remained for most of three seasons until finishing out his seven-year NFL career as a backup with the Falcons. He had a good-looking backup in Jim Everett. Benson played hurt most of the year and then managed a five-year NFL career with three teams. Gray continued his versatile performance as a runner, receiver, and return man and then enjoyed a twelve-year pro career, primarily as one of the most dangerous kick and punt returners in the league. O-Tackle Tom Jelesky who had missed '82 with injury, returned to lead the line and then played two seasons with the Eagles. Safety Ray Wallace led the defensive secondary with Freshman All American Rod Woodson, one of the nation's most coveted recruits. Walk-on LB Kevin Sumlin led the team in tackles.

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