Henry entered the spring as the top quarterback, but Etling, Appleby and fellow freshman Bilal Marshall were given their fair shot. Midway through the spring, it became a three-horse race, with Appleby beginning to fall behind. Entering the summer, Henry, Etling and Appleby will each get their chance to win the job. Coach Darrell Hazell says a starter will likely be named two weeks before the season-opener against Cincinnati.
Biggest riser—Without question, Danny Etling made the biggest strides this spring. The 18-year-old was supposed to be a senior in high school; instead, he's near the top of Purdue's depth chart. That's what happened after a strong showing in the Boilermakers' 15 practices.
Etling showed his abilities to lead the offense while combining his talent—though raw at times—with football smarts. He and Purdue offensive coordinator John Shoop developed a strong relationship together while learning how to work together. There's a lot to like from Etling's spring showing.
Needs a big summer—Early in the spring, it appeared redshirt freshman Austin Appleby was poised to be the Boilermakers' starter. Now, he is desperate for the summer to start. Appleby fell behind in Purdue's quarterback competition and has to make up some ground.
It wasn't that Appleby was bad, because he showed flashes of brilliance at times during the spring. However, he lacked overall consistency, where Henry and Etling were much more dependable. Appleby's spring ended with a poor showing in the spring game, where he went 6-of-18 for 52 yards and an interception. On the brightside, Appleby now has the summer to make necessary improvements.
Quote to note—"We're all learning right now and we're each getting better. Coach Shoop is doing a great job, there's no doubt about that." –Quarterback Rob Henry, on the battle for the starting job.
Prediction—Purdue's era will see a new leader running the offense in the season-opener. It will be Danny Etling taking the season's first snap under center.
Football coaches are smart people, and are often careful with their words. When Darrell Hazell offered such high praise of the true freshman, it spoke volumes. Etling has impressed during his very young Purdue career and won't be slowing down.