Notes: Three of a kind

The Boilermakers put the pads on for two practices, marking their first two-a-day of the camp. The biggest news of the day came in the Boilermakers' quarterback battle, where redshirt freshman Austin Appleby has emerged as a strong contender. It's a three-man race for the starting spot. Boiler Sports Report offers the details from West Lafayette.

-- At the beginning of Purdue's camp, coach Darrell Hazell said it was a three-man race for the starting quarterback job. "I meant it," he reiterated following a practice on Thursday evening which saw Austin Appleby working in with the first-team offense.

-- Entering camp, it appeared to be just two quarterbacks in the hunt, with fifth-year senior Rob Henry and true freshman Danny Etling showing the most promise for the job. However, Appleby has impressed while Etling has struggled at times. As a result, Appleby saw some first-team reps and the majority of the second-team snaps. Etling worked primarily with the third-team offense.

-- Addressing the media after practice, Etling wasn't at all discouraged. He's one of the youngest players on the team but shows great maturity and confidence. "It's not really something I'm worried about," Etling said.

-- The starter at quarterback is expected to be announced around August 17th—give or take a day—according to Hazell's pre-set plan. Judging by what practice has revealed, Henry leads the race and Appleby isn't too far behind. Etling must show consistency with his game, namely in how he reads the defense. Turnovers have been his greatest issue in camp.

-- The Boilermakers took the field for two practices today, their first two-a-day of camp. They practiced in the rain during the morning, then moved it inside for their afternoon session. "Two hard practices," Hazell said. "We got a lot of work done."

-- Whichever quarterback is named the starter will have some great targets to throw to. The Boilermakers' receiving core looks loaded with talent. A rising name to watch is Shane Mikesky, who Hazell confirmed has "a very good chance" of making the rotation. Mikesky's response: "It's an opportunity that I want to take full advantage of."

-- Middle linebacker Joe Gilliam was not present at either of the Boilermakers' practices today. He was in Indianapolis getting a finger issue checked out. The injury occurred two weeks ago, Hazell confirmed, and needed to be checked out. Further updates on Gilliam's condition will follow.

-- Some good news on offense came with the return of senior tight end Gabe Holmes, who has battled a hamstring issue recently. While Holmes saw just limited reps in full-speed drills—all as a precautionary—Hazell is excited to see the big tight end in action. "He's a great target for us to have," Hazell said.

-- Asked Frankie Williams about some of the things he has learned from defensive backs coach Jon Heacock and he responded, "It's more like what I haven't learned from him." Heacock is very thorough with his drills and it's rubbing off on his players.

-- Hazell and his staff put great importance into special-teams work, so having starting cornerback Ricardo Allen in punt-return drills shouldn't be too surprising. "Special teams are huge," Hazell said. "We need to put our best players on special teams."

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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