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Purdue coach: Redskins “hit the jackpot” with Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan seems almost too good to be true. At least that’s the impression I’m getting from those who know him best.

Purdue defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Gary Emanuel could have raved about Kerrigan for hours on the phone this morning. The Redskins “hit the jackpot,” he said.

You expect a draft pick’s college coach to talk up his guy, so just keep that in mind. But these compliments begin to carry significant weight as they pile up.

“He’s a great, great, humble kid,” said Emanuel, who coached Kerrigan last season. “He’s not selfish in any way. He’s just a great human being. The easiest way for me to sum it up—as I told everybody going into all this stuff—if you had a son, you’d want him to be like Ryan. If you had a daughter, you’d love for her to bring him home. And as a coach, you wish all your players were like Ryan.”

Emanuel has coached some good ones in his career as a college and pro coach: Anthony Spencer, Akin Ayodele and Shaun Phillips, to name a few. When he was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive line coach from 2005-06, he worked with some players who weren’t totally committed to the sport, he said.

That’s not the case with Kerrigan.

“There really are no flaws in his character, game or preparation,” Emanuel said. “He’s one of the guys who really likes football and is passionate about it. When I say that from a coach’s point of view, it really means that he likes all the stuff that comes with being a football player.

“He likes lifting weights. You can look at his body and tell. He likes working out. He likes running. He likes studying film. He likes to practice.  He loves to play. Some guys don’t like all those things. Everybody likes the game, but people don’t like to do the things to get to the game. He loves the game.”

Kerrigan’s passion for football took off his freshman year of high school. That’s when he started to enjoy weight room and conditioning work.

“I just really wanted to make myself better and put myself in the best possible position to make plays on the football field,” Kerrigan said this afternoon. “My fire has been fueled even more when I got to college. I imagine it will grow even more now that I’m taking the next step.”

The big question with Kerrigan moving forward is how well/quickly he will adjust to 3-4 linebacker. After all, Brian Orakpo still hasn’t gotten the position down.

Having two outside linebackers who are converted defensive ends is something teams will try to exploit. Emanuel, however, is confident that Kerrigan has the tools to excel.

For starters, Kerrigan played mostly on the left side, which is where the Redskins’ linebacker vacancy is. He has played on both sides, though, which should allow the Redskins to flip-flop Orakpo and him whenever the matchup suits them.

“Whatever the coaches ask him to do, he’ll do it to the maximum of his ability,” Emanuel said. “He [dropped in coverage] here in his early years, and he did it in practice. We were just not foolish enough this past year when he was our best guy going forward to have him in coverage.

“Some people have some chinks in their armor, but if he can’t do something, he’ll kill himself to get it down. That’s a credit to him. It will take a little bit of work to understand the intricacies of NFL football like it would for any player, but he’ll adjust to it and be very successful.”