Purdue running back Tario Fuller, who was projected to be the team's lead back this season, is out indefinitely after suffering an injury to his jaw in the Boilermakers' scrimmage Saturday.
Coach Jeff Brohm announced Monday that Fuller, a fifth-year senior, had surgery to repair two fractures in the jaw. There is no timetable for his return.
"It was a fluke thing that happened on special teams," Brohm said. "I feel bad for (Fuller) because he's worked hard, was in good shape and ready to go. He'll be out indefinitely and I don't know the time frame."
In Fuller's absence, Sophomore Zander Horvath will likely be the team's starting running back. Horvath, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound bruiser had just nine carries in 2018, gaining 42 yards and scoring one touchdown. Despite those modest numbers, he is now Purdue's most experienced healthy running back. The Boilermakers had already lost 2018's top two backs, D.J. Knox and Markell Jones, to graduation, and Richie Worship, who had a promising 2017 season, missed all of 2018 after undergoing two knee surgeries; he is still out and it's unclear when he'll be able to play again.
Behind Horvath, the Boilermakers have a couple of promising freshmen in 5-10, 210-pound King Doerue and 5-10, 205-pound Da'Joun Hewitt. Both have been banged up in fall camp, but Doerue, the No. 36 running back in the country in 2019 per 247sports.com, has had some moments.
"It’s going to make that position thinner," Brohm said of Fuller's injury. "The young freshmen are going to have to step in and play. ... They are spinning right now. We can’t ask them to do too much."
Fuller's injury is the latest he has suffered in a snake-bitten career with the Boilermakers. He had already had ankle surgery, sports hernia surgery and surgery to repair a torn labrum since 2015.