August 2, 2006

Painter earns respect, gains confidence

CHICAGO - Though he said all the right things at the time, Dorien Bryant had trouble masking his disappointment.

Following Purdue's loss at Wisconsin mid-way through 2005, Bryant couldn't figure out exactly why Curtis Painter, a raw redshirt freshman, got the start over his friend Brandon Kirsch, a veteran he thought gave the Boilers a better chance to win. The QB change, he now admits, was difficult to handle.

"It was kind of a rough time," the junior wide receiver said, "because we still were in contention for a bowl, with five games left. We were thinking 'well, are (the coaches) giving up on the season?'

"It was frustrating for me because at the time I was averaging about 10 catches a game and then it dropped to three - total - over the next two games. It was bad because for a while I felt like I was just running for no reason."

Boy how things have changed. Flash forward a season, as the Boilermakers try to rebound from their 5-6 finish in '05, and Painter may not have a bigger supporter than Bryant. Though not the best of friends - as Bryant and Kirsch could be described - the two now share a bond unlike a season ago.

"It's definitely changed," Painter said of their relationship. "I think he was one of the guys who was most disturbed with the change because of his comfort level (with Kirsch). As the season went on, we started to get a little better and now since the off-season, it's been a complete 180. Everything is going really well right now."

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