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Troup senior stays busy

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

He’s a man of many talents, and positions.

Troup’s Luke Purnell began his high-school career as a quarterback, and he’ll finish it as a tight end, long snapper, and backup linebacker.

Purnell and his teammates will be on the turf of Callaway Stadium on Friday night for the season opener against Ridgeland.

It’ll be Troup’s first official game since the 2018 season ended with a hard-fought loss to Blessed Trinity in the semifinals of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

“it’s insane. It’s over the top right now,” Purnell said about the team’s mindset as opening day approaches. “Everybody’s so excited. It’s just crazy, especially watching everybody else play.”

Purnell and his fellow seniors have known nothing but success since they arrived at Troup.

The Tigers are 29-8 over the past three seasons, and they won a program-record 12 games a year ago.

Purnell was a quarterback as a freshman, but he moved to tight end for his sophomore season, and that’s where he has remained while also handling the long-snapping duties, a critical and oftentimes undervalued position

“He’s our tight end, our F back (a tight end/fullback hybrid), he’ll split out and play wide receiver, and he’s a linebacker, and he’s a snapper for us, and he’s a captain,” said Tanner Glisson, who took over as Troup’s head coach in 2015. “So there’s not a whole lot he doesn’t do.”

Purnell, while clearly possessing the ability to do a lot of things on game night, tries to have tunnel vision when he’s on the field, meaning whatever he’s doing at the moment, that’s where his focus is.

“It’s always good to be able to look back and said I did all this, I did all I could,” Purnell said. “At the same time, I just have to focus on the task at hand. When I’m snapping, I’m a snapper. When I’m playing tight end, I’m a tight end.”

Purnell got a lot of playing time at tight end last season, and while he only a handful of passes including a touchdown against Harris County, he played a key role as a blocker, and that’s a part of the game he enjoys.

“Most of my blocking is one-on-one,” Purnell said. “So it’s just who’s the dog, who’s the better person.”

What Purnell’s role will be in the offense this season remains to be seen, although he did offer that “it looks like (the ball’s) coming my way a little bit.”

After football season ends, Purnell will make the transition to baseball, and he’ll be a starting outfielder for Troup when the season begins in February.

For the moment, though, Purnell is 100 percent committed to making the most of his final few months as a high-school football player, and he’ll do whatever the coaches ask him to do.

“They say it, we do it,” Purnell said. “After that 1-9 season (in 2015), we decided to do what (Glisson) told us to do, and you saw what happened.”