Notes: Boilers catching on

After a weekend of rest, the Boilermakers returned to the practice field on Monday afternoon for their fourth spring workout. Boiler Sports Report offers notes and quotes from Mollenkopf Center.

-- It was back to work on Monday for Purdue, after a weekend off. The players were allowed two days of rest while their coaches attended a clinic in Indianapolis over the weekend. The Boilermakers spent two hours inside the Mollenkopf Center on Monday, wearing shoulder pads and shorts.

-- While the reps at quarterback remain fairly even, it appears fifth-year senior Rob Henry is the leader for now. Henry continues to see the most time with the first-team offense and is the first man up with each drill. At times, though, Purdue splits its offense drills into two, so all four quarterbacks get their fair share of time.

-- Henry has been very impressive through four practices. His mobility has been solid and he has shown great abilities on the move. You can see the little things in his game have improved, which can partially be credited to new offensive coordinator John Shoop.

-- It's hard to credit just Henry without touching on what the freshmen have done, too. Austin Appleby appears much more confident with his movement and his throws appear even stronger. Bilal Marshall and Danny Etling have plenty of natural talent, but are both still very raw. The spring will serve them well.

-- Spring is about teaching the fundamentals, but the little errors are not tolerated. Purdue's receiving core has struggled with consistency so that was stressed by coach Kevin Sherman through several drills. In one drill, the receivers formed three rows and Sherman plus two team managers chucked passes at each receiver, standing 10 yards away.

-- Purdue defensive backs coach Jon Heacock met with the media after Monday's practice and offered high praise for his unit's effort through four practices. Heacock spoke of putting the players through tests—whether it's on the practice field or in meetings—getting them ready for high-pressure situations in game action. "I'm encouraged by them, that's for sure. I like their attitude."

-- Said sophomore defensive back Anthony Brown of his new coach: "Coach Heacock is a great coach. He teaches the fundamentals really well. He's big on the fundamentals."

-- With so much youth in the secondary, the veterans like Ricardo Allen and Landon Feichter have worked to be leaders for the unit.

-- Running back Akeem Hunt has been featured as the top returner for punt-return drills. The junior is so explosive and should be a solid fit with the special teams.

-- From all indications, the new coaching staff is very high on Hunt all together. He has such great athleticism and is dangerous in the open field. He should be a major weapon within the offense.

-- The offensive line has begun to really mesh, with several redshirt freshmen standing out early on. One of those is guard Jordan Roos, who continues to work in with the first-team offensive line. "Everybody has an equal opportunity," Roos said after practice. "It's a new coaching staff, nobody has a spot. We're all working toward that."

-- Roos spoke highly of new offensive line coach Jim Bridge, who came over from Illinois at the beginning of March. Bridge has worked to instill a toughness within his group. Said Roos: "It gets pretty intense over there. You can't be a softy on the offensive line."

-- The practice ended with the offense and defense splitting into two groups and running through a gauntlet of coaches working to knock the ball loose.

-- Purdue returns to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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