June 8, 2012

Purdue looking at JC D-tackle

When Abens Cajuste was coming out of high school, he was way too undersized to get major Division I offers.

Or really, Division I offers of any sort.

But the then 235-pound defensive tackle has turned into a massive 305-pound one, and after a redshirt season at an FCS and his two years at a junior college, is ready to make a big jump to D-I.

"It's just a blessing because coming out of high school I was basically a nobody," said Cajuste, a second-year player at Victor Valley C.C. "But I've been working hard and staying with it and since this has happened it's made me even more hungry."

Schools have found Cajuste the second time around. The Miami, Fla., native has 11 offers, including from Arizona, Indiana, Kansas State, Purdue, Rutgers and Washington State.

He's pleased to have the opportunities now, particularly after getting none out of North Miami Beach High School. Then, he had to go to a FCS, but after redshirting decided on Victor Valley.

"Redshirts do more than what the team does," he said. "So I believe that the year I sat out, I got bigger, stronger and faster and I understood the game more. It made me even more hungry."

And after a season at Victor, Division I schools started to take notice.

"I knew I had good schools coming," he said, "because Arizona was my first contact and I knew once they came, there was going to be a lot more programs coming in. But with where I am right now, I didn't really expect it."

Purdue is among those offering. The Boilermakers have been in close contact, he says, and are intriguing because they can offer playing time almost immediately. Kawann Short graduates, and two of Purdue's other top tackles do the year after.

Purdue wants Cajuste to visit in the fall.

"That's the No. 1 goal," he said. "Looking for some place I can come in and play right away, right now."

Cajuste hasn't taken any visits yet, but may once he gets home to Miami. But five officials might be coming in the fall.

"I'm just looking for a school that I can see me playing my last two college football seasons at," he said. "I want to have an opportunity to play right away with the best coach who is going to help me take my game to the next level and get me better as a person and a player. And a place where I can finish my education at, a location where I feel at home.

"I'm keeping my options open, but I like Purdue. They have Florida players and I see how they've taken guys at my position to the next level. That's what I like."

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