When Cornhusker fans opened their local newspapers during the 2007 football offseason, the headlines read, "Star Receiver Arrested for Assault," followed by another headline five weeks later that read, "Star Receiver Arrested for DWI." Those were not exactly the headlines that the former Nebraska coaching staff was hoping to read after recruiting the troubled youngster to play for the Huskers in 2006.
Never one to embrace academics, Purify failed to qualify for a major college scholarship coming out of Eureka High School, enrolling at the City College of San Francisco in 2004. He became a two-sport star, excelling in football and basketball.
Arriving at Nebraska, all went well for Purify during the 2006, but after his first year with the Huskers, he went through a bit of a tailspin that led to two arrests and an eventual team suspension. In May 2007, he was charged with two counts of assaulting a man and woman at a bar in downtown Lincoln. The media reported that Purify assaulted a doorman of a bar after the doorman had denied him and acquaintance admittance into the bar.
Police say Purify threw a punch at the man and also assaulted the man's girlfriend when she intervened. When police arrived, they say Purify didn't comply with their orders. Purify was taken to jail and was let out on bond. He was also authorized to participate in a pre-trial diversion program.
Five weeks later, Purify was again arrested in early June on suspicion of drunken driving. A State Patrol trooper stopped Purify after midnight, at the intersection of Cornhusker Highway and North First Street in Lincoln. Purify was observed driving 53 mph in a 40 mph zone and failing to use his turn signal, patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said. The 21-year-old Purify was taken to the Lincoln Detoxification Center after being ticketed on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Purify was suspended from the team for the 2007 season opener, but his off-field issues continued. While in August camp, his 29-year-old brother was shot and killed in Oakland, California. Purify left the team to travel home, returning after the funeral. In early October, just before the Missouri game, Purify's girlfriend, Reja Shapiro, died in an automobile wreck.
Before Nebraska's March 2008 Pro Day, Purify, senior offensive tackle Carl Nicks and two other football players were among a group that was ticketed by Lincoln police, for being an "inmate of a disorderly house." The receiver and police offered different accounts.
According to officer Katie Flood, police arrived to that party to find the music could be heard from the sidewalk and more than 75 people inside the house, empty beer cans littering the place.
Flood said police cited 10 partygoers who remained after officers told everyone to leave, including Purify and Nicks, who was arrested. "It was way overblown," Purify said. "There were not 75 people (at the party). People upstairs got to leave. We were down there in the movie theater room. We can't hear what's going on upstairs."
While his off-field issues damaged his draft stock, his performance on the field was just short of spectacular, considering that Nebraska has never been known for their passing game. Despite starting just nine games during his two seasons with the Huskers, he ranks sixth in school history with 91 receptions, fifth with 1,444 yards receiving and second with 16 touchdown catches. His 57 catches and nine scoring grabs in 2007 were both good for second on the school single-season record chart.