Henry honing his game

Locked in a battle to be the Boilermakers' top quarterback, fifth-year senior Rob Henry is focusing on improving his game. Purdue's lone veteran quarterback won't be satisfied with just getting by.

A spectator at Purdue's Saturday scrimmage would likely have been impressed by Rob Henry's performance. The fifth-year senior quarterback threw for a touchdown and showcased his abilities while helping the offense win the scrimmage.

Henry was not impressed with his performance. He criticized his passes, noted his two turnovers, and expressed overall disappointment.

"There's always room for improvement," said Henry after the scrimmage.

It's Henry's final year at Purdue, and he doesn't plan to leave with regrets.

A role player for most of his career, Henry hopes to be the guy for his team. This spring, the lone veteran in the quarterback room is locked in a tight battle with Danny Etling, a freshman who enrolled early at Purdue.

"I think we can win with both of those guys right now," Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell said of the Boilermakers' top two quarterbacks.

Henry has put in the work this spring. He has strived to be the starter but also done his part to guide Etling and Purdue's other quarterbacks along.

The learning curve this spring has been altered as Henry and the quarterbacks learn the offense implemented by new coordinator John Shoop. This makes growth especially critical.

"We're getting better," said Henry. "We're not taking any steps back. We're getting better each day and that's a positive."

The efforts have paid dividends for Henry, as shown by his strong performance in Saturday's scrimmage. Henry is playing with confidence and leading the Boilermaker offense like a starter. The only sampling Hazell had of Henry's abilities were on film from last season—that is until now. The new head coach has been encouraged by the spring showing.

"He has really impressed me," said Hazell of Henry. "His leadership skills, his understanding of the offense, and he can really make some plays with his feet. He has done a really nice job."

Henry credits his progress to his work with the new coaching staff, especially Shoop, who has been very harsh when reviewing the film of his players.

"They're demanding a lot out of every individual," said Henry. "And that's what we need."

The competition at quarterback could wage on into the summer. For now, it's a two-horse race, though redshirt freshman Austin Appleby—currently trailing Henry and Etling—has the potential to make it a battle.

"I still think we have a battle there," Hazell added.

Henry has his sights set on winning the starting job, and will be his own critic until everything is perfect.

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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