Robert Marve had a hurtful exit at Miami (Fla.) and a painful start at Purdue. Just days after transferring to West Lafayette, Ind., Marve tore his ACL last summer during on-field drills.
That followed an explosive ending to life in South Florida, when he was twice suspended from the Hurricanes, struggled academically and arrested for breaking a car mirror and then fleeing police. Those charges were eventually dropped. He finally stormed out following the 2008 season when he was suspended for the Emerald Bowl that year for missing a class.
Purdue coach Danny Hope is optimistic all of that is behind him. The coaching staff thoroughly investigated Marve before accepting him into the program. Now after sitting out a year and regaining full strength in the knee, Florida's former Mr. Football is ready to win the starting job at a school known for producing quarterbacks.
Hope isn't about to just hand the job to Marve, particularly after his stormy past. Sophomore Caleb TerBush and redshirt freshman Rob Henry will both get long looks this spring.
"We'll mathematically figure out a way to divvy up the reps (during the spring) among our top guys," Hope said. "But if it turns out one guys is emerging, he might get more reps. We'll see. We have to have a chance to evaluate them."
In order for Purdue to explode offensively, Marve will have to win the job. And he will. Marve, who has two years of eligibility remaining, had little choice after the knee injury but to dig into the playbook and learn about his teammates.
Miami coach Randy Shannon only agreed to release Marve from his scholarship after replacing huge restrictions on where he could go. Shannon wouldn't let Marve transfer to any other ACC school or SEC powers LSU, Florida and Tennessee. He couldn't transfer to any other school in Florida, either.
With such limited options, the flashy Florida quarterback who broke an assortment of Tim Tebow's high school records opted for the cornfields of Indiana. Now he will try to lead a Purdue team that stumbled to a 1-5 start before winning four of its last six games in 2009.
Trying to capitalize on that end-year momentum begins this spring as the Boilermakers attempt to make that long trip back to bowl eligibility. If they are going to get there, Marve will likely have to be the one to lead them.
"There's some firepower here," Hope said. "We have to develop it."NOTES, QUOTES
SPRING OBJECTIVES: All four jobs are open in the secondary with plenty of competitors lining up. Albert Evans has the most experience of all safety candidates and would seem a strong option, but he'll miss this spring with an ankle injury.
Finding four defensive backs is easily the toughest task for the coaching staff between now and September. Gavin Roberts, Josh Johnson, Charlton Williams, Chris Quinn, Ishmael Aristide and junior college transfer Michael Eargle will get the first looks to fill some pressing needs.
While that is being sorted out, Purdue must find three new starters across the offensive line. Since center is also included in that group, it automatically becomes the most important. Sophomores Rick Schmeig and Andrew Brewer are the most likely candidates. Schmeig was the backup to Jared Zwilling last season and played in seven games, primarily at guard. Brewer bulked up to now 300 pounds and is just starting to feel comfortable at that size. He'll push Schmeig this spring. The loser at center could easily shift to guard.
If the Boilermakers can patch a couple holes up front, the offense should be explosive -- even by Purdue's lofty standards.
Miami (Fla.) transfer Robert Marve has quickly grasped the playbook and hasn't shown a reason yet why he shouldn't be considered the starter. Keith Smith won't play this spring with a wrist injury, but his 91 catches and 1,100 yards last season were tops in the Big Ten. He's joined by Kyle Adams, Keith Carlos, Antavian Edison and Cortez Smith to give Purdue what coach Danny Hope believes is of its deepest sets of receivers and tight ends in years.
Ralph Bolden surprised everyone last year with his 78 rushing yards per game, which ranked third in the league, and Al-Terek McBurse showed explosiveness last year on special teams. He'll be Bolden's backup as a sophomore.
The only question on offense is protecting the quarterback. With only two returning starters up front, there are plenty of jobs available.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't have to lead the nation, but you can't be at the bottom." -- coach Danny Hope, on making ball security an issue this spring after Purdue's 29 turnovers last year ranked 109th in the nationSTRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: Purdue could surprise some teams, provided it patches up a shredded secondary and finds an adequate replacement up the middle of the defense for Mike Neal. The Boilers will again be explosive on offense with All-Big Ten selections Keith Smith (WR) and Ralph Bolden (RB) returning at the skill positions. QB Robert Marve should step in nicely for QB Joey Elliott, leaving Purdue's primary concerns across the defense. If nothing else, the Boilers should continue to score a lot of points. But teams don't typically win in the Big Ten without playing a little defense. After last season's 5-7 finish, the players want to return to a bowl game this season.
--DB Michael Eargle -- The junior college transfer has perhaps the best chance of anyone to contribute immediately. There are plenty of jobs available in the secondary and Eargle has the benefit of two years of college football already, plus the 15 practices this spring. He is already on campus taking part in spring drills.
--QB Robert Marve -- The Miami transfer has some competition, but should easily win the starter's job by fall. He has plenty of talent around him to be successful.
--CB Ricardo Allen -- Coach Danny Hope said Allen was the No. 1 high school cornerback on the Boilermakers' board. Being able to land him is big, given the amount of turnover coming in Purdue's secondary. At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Allen is a strong candidate to contribute immediately.
--DT Bruce Gaston -- Hope said Gaston has the potential to be iconic -- huge praise for a high school kid that hasn't even put the pads on yet. With Mike Neal off to the NFL, Gaston could fit right in along Purdue's defensive front.
--WR Keith Smith (wrist), LBs Jason Werner (Achilles) and Antwon Higgs (wrist), S Albert Evans (ankle) and DT Nick Mondek (ankle) will miss spring practice with an assortment of injuries. Smith led the team in receptions last year, but the most notable name is Werner because of his long history of back trouble. Only it's his heel keeping him out of spring ball.
--Colton McKey has switched from tight end to offensive tackle. He is now listed as No. 71.
Previous Report: 04/21/2010