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Purdue University

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Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short had a team-high 6 1/2 sacks last season as a junior.

Boilers’ Short hoping for giant senior season

– Ricardo Allen ran up to and hugged teammate Kawann Short moments after Purdue’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl victory against Western Michigan.

He also asked the defensive tackle a question.

“Are you coming back for the next season?” Allen recalled at Big Ten media day. “He said, ‘Don’t worry about that, I’ll be back.’ ”

Short is back for his senior season at Purdue.

“If I had to vote (after the bowl game), it was 60-40 that I would be back,” Short said. “One day it was like, ‘I’m going to leave.’ The next was, ‘I’m going to stay.’

“I was sitting and talking to my mom (Yvonne Green). I had to realize I made a promise to her (to graduate). I always kept my promise to my mother. It was like, I have to stay now.”

Short was projected as a third-round draft pick for the 2012 draft. His decision to stay could lead to a first-round selection in 2013.

For now, Short is focused on helping the Boilermakers improve on last year’s 7-6 season.

“Everybody is trying to get to a better bowl game,” Short said. “We need to do what we are capable of, execute what we’ve got to and beat the teams we need to beat and try to win this division.”

Short earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by the media (second team by the coaches) in 2011. He had a career-high 54 tackles, including a team-leading 17 for loss.

Short also led the team with 6 1/2 sacks. He collected three sacks on the way to gaining Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors in an overtime victory against Ohio State on Nov. 12.

“He can be one of the top players in his position in the country, not just in our league. He has exceptional potential,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “He’s in much better shape, leaner (310 pounds), a more conditioned Kawann Short. If he plays his best on a more consistent basis, he will really impact our team this season.”

Short has received plenty of preseason accolades and is on several preseason watch lists. He was one of 10 players named to the Big Ten Players to Watch List.

“It means a lot,” Short said. “It’s good to be nominated for them. (Now) I’m just trying to win them.”

All while helping the Boilermakers win games.

“It made us even more hungry,” Short said. “We are way better than we were last season right now, as far as offseason. … We are just ready. A lot of guys right now are focused.”

lpope@jg.net

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