Boilermakers confident in their quarterbacks

Purdue will name its starting quarterback during fall camp, with fifth-year senior Rob Henry and true freshman Danny Etling battling for the top spot.

CHICAGO – Since becoming Purdue's head coach, Darrell Hazell has kept a careful plan. Such is the case with the Boilermakers' quarterback battle.

While speaking at Big Ten Media Days, Hazell reiterated his plan to name a starting quarterback two weeks into fall practice. Fifth-year senior Rob Henry and true freshman Danny Etling are dead locked in a close competition, with redshirt freshman Austin Appleby also in the mix. The winner will be revealed down the road.

"We'll make a decision and have that guy have ownership of our football team going into our first game," Hazell said.

The competition became a two-horse race midway through spring drills, when Henry and Etling ascended to the top.

Henry has more years of experience than the rest of the quarterback depth chart combined. However, he only has seven career starts under his belt and threw just 38 passes last season.

The rise of Etling has caught the eyes of the new coaching staff. He arrived on campus in January and showed he could command the offense, matching leadership qualities with his skills.

"I've got to keep reminding myself that he's a true freshman," Hazell said of Etling. "He carries himself like he's ready."

Aside from experience, Henry has Etling beat in speed. The dual-threat quarterback brings an extra element to John Shoop's pro-style offense.

"Rob is one of the fastest on the team," senior tight end Gabe Holmes said. "He can run, and run really well. That's always a good thing to have."

Inside the Purdue locker room, there has been no clear indication as to who will win the job. The Boilermaker players are just as curious as everyone else.

After a productive spring and busy summer workouts, the team has a great deal of confidence in whoever is taking the season's first snap.

"We see them competing every play, every day," senior cornerback Ricardo Allen said. "We don't know who's going to be the starter. At the end of the day, it's the coaches' vote and we take it as it is. We'll surround them with a great enthusiasm and loyalty."

The Boilermakers feel comfortable with any of their potential quarterbacks. Now, they wait for a starter to be revealed. The competition is set to continue when camp opens up.

"They've all been working hard in the spring and it carried into the summer," Holmes said. "We're going to see them work hard for the fall. We're going to see who works the hardest to get the job."

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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