FORT WAYNE – When Kawann Short came to Purdue in 2008, he was – in his own words – way overweight.
Short will leave Purdue as a potential first-round draft pick and one of the most decorated interior linemen in school history.
Short plays his final game today when the Boilermakers meet Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
These years that Ive been here, each year has been a learning experience. Its been a blessing being enrolled at Purdue, Short said during a recent interview leading up to the bowl game. If I had a chance to pick it all over again, I still would pick Purdue.
The defensive tackle earned second-team All-America honors this season. He has 42 tackles, 14 1/2 tackles for loss, six sacks, four pass breakups, four blocked kicks, two fumbles recovered and one forced fumble.
I felt like I worked hard enough in the offseason to get it, Short said. Its great. Every individual player works to get to that first team. If you work that hard, the outcome is going to be positive at the end of the year. First team wasnt there, but second team is still a blessing.
Short became the first Boilermaker to receive All-American honors since his former teammate defensive end Ryan Kerrigan in 2010.
Ryan and (former Purdue defensive tackle) Mike Neal taught me a lot, Short said. Following in their footsteps, just working hard and staying focused, they kept me grounded. Those guys had a lot to do with the success Ive had so far.
Short was touched by the response from his teammates when interim coach Patrick Higgins announced Short received the All-American recognition at a team meeting.
That was a heartwarming thing, those guys standing up and giving me a standing ovation, Short said.
Short was also named first-team All-Big Ten for the second straight year.
Each year has always been something, Short said. Freshmen year, I came in way overweight, not in condition (he was listed at 318 pounds in the 2008 roster, now he is at 310). And seeing these guys, speed was this and that. I just wanted to get my conditioning right.
It made me think, if I want to be great, Ive got to do what these guys have done. Make sacrifices, stay here during the summer. I just felt like that paid off.
Short is eighth all-time at Purdue in both career tackles for loss (48) and sacks (18 1/2 ) and has blocked more field goals (six) than any other player in school history. Those numbers get the attention of NFL scouts. Right now, Shorts focus is on slowing down the Cowboys, who average 44.7 points per game.
They do something different than what weve gone against all year, Short said. From the run game to the pass game to the offensive line, they are pretty good.
Short said the season didnt go exactly as planned, but hes still proud to finish his career with a Jan. 1 bowl game.
That lets you know that we dont quit. We keep fighting and good things will come, he said. Playing on a Jan. 1 bowl is a blessing. Its what all these guys worked for.