Freshman Dillon Thieneman carves starting role for Purdue football

Lafayette Journal & Courier
WEST LAFAYETTE − The general rule around Purdue football for years has been that true freshmen don't talk to the media.
Not until they've played their first game, anyway.
Dillon Thieneman is the exception to that rule.
To be fair, the former Westfield High School defensive back has been the exception for just about every other freshman stereotype, too.
"Coming in, in the weight room, on the field, wherever you look at, he's already on top of the boards on everything," senior safety Cam Allen said. "Looking through my eyes, it's a whole bunch of things he did that I haven't seen a true freshman do in a long time."
And now, the true freshman will start at safety for the Purdue Boilermakers in their season opener Saturday against Fresno State.
"He's got no fear and I think because of that he's he's earned the respect of the guys in the locker room and really impressed the staff and he's earned the right to start," Purdue football head coach Ryan Walters said Monday.
Purdue Boilermakers safety Dillon Thieneman runs a drill during practice at Mollenkopf Athletic Center.
The last name is familiar.
Thieneman's older brothers, Jacob and Brennan, both joined Purdue's program from Guerin Catholic High in Noblesville as walk-ons turned scholarship players.
The younger brother carved his own path, attending Westfield High School and helping the Shamrocks be a Class 6A power in Indiana playing for coach Jake Gilbert.
Purdue football coach Ryan Walters said during Wednesday night's radio show that Dillon is the most talented of the three. You'll likely get no argument from the elder two Thieneman brothers.
"Growing up, I always came to Purdue games watching my brothers play," Dillon Thieneman said last week. "It made me want to get out there and do it for myself."
And he did.
Thieneman graduated from Westfield early, then was a shining star during spring camp after enrolling at Purdue in January.
Thieneman, at 6-foot and 205 pounds, already is Purdue's second fastest player, and not far behind receiver Deion Burks.
"How he's handled the transition to college, I think that is probably the biggest thing to me," senior captain Sanoussi Kane said. "Me and Cam are veterans so we're always trying to put in extra work and extra time. D.T. came in doing that. That is something I had to work on and develop as I got older.
"That work ethic he has and attention to detail, those two things stood out."
Thieneman is slated to be Purdue's only true freshman starter against Fresno State and is one of just four to be found anywhere on the depth chart.
"He's got a mentality about him where he wants to be the best," defensive coordinator Kevin Kane said. "Walking in the door, he already had that mentality, so that always helps.
"When the ball is snapped, I have no doubt, just like he did in the winter, he's going to go out and work and perform."

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