An appreciation of Austin Appleby

Backed in a tough position battle, quarterback Austin Appleby refused to quit on Purdue.

It was sudden and stern. Austin Appleby interjected, asking for the question to be repeated. He didn't want to be mistaken.

Did you ever consider transferring?

Before the second syllable of "transferring" was even muttered, the Purdue sophomore quarterback jumped into his response. It was filled with emotion and great conviction.

"This is where I want to be," Appleby said in a strong tone. "This is the school that I chose. This is the school I fell in love with. I want to help this team win a championship."

Were Appleby to leave Purdue, it would be hard to blame him. He came to West Lafayette with promise of becoming the Boilermakers' starter, the next in the program's ‘Cradle of Quarterbacks' tradition. That was before Danny Etling, David Blough and Elijah Sindelar showed up.

Appleby waited patiently behind Danny Hope's three-quarterback mess as a true freshman, working for his opportunity. One year later, Appleby was believing he had a chance to be the guy for new head man Darrell Hazell.

When fall camp broke, Rob Henry was the Boilermakers' starter. As he struggled along, the Purdue offense appeared helpless. Yet, Appleby was hardly considered as a replacement. He moved to the backup role, working behind Etling, the true freshman. It was basically a mop-up job.

Debate on with whether Appleby is more talented, more poised, etcetera, than Etling. Either way, Appleby deserved a better chance in 2013.

"Regardless of what happened last season—I got discouraged, I was down—by I never stopped working," said Appleby. "I never packed it in. if anything, it made me work harder."

Put Appleby in just about any mid-major school, or even a lot of other major-conference programs, and he's a starting quarterback. He has the skills, the leadership abilities, and is a true student of the game. It just so happens that Etling does, too.

For Purdue, this is a great problem to have. When Sindelar joins the program next season, it's likely the Boilermakers will have a record four Elite 11 quarterbacks on their roster, with Appleby, Etling and Blough included in the mix.

Present reality suggests Appleby doesn't fit with Purdue. It appears Etling will be the starter moving forward, and the two are on similar eligibility paths. Perhaps Blough or Sindelar could win the job down the road. But barring an extreme regression from Etling, it's hard to envision Appleby beating him out.

Hazell seems invested in Etling, a recruit he inherited during the transition from Danny Hope. The maneuvers made at quarterback last season back this concept. Even through great struggles and a steep learning curve, Etling was never in danger of losing his spot.

While Appleby would never admit it, he had to be frustrated while sending in signals from the sidelines.

Appleby has tremendous drive and carries some swagger. He's honest, never shy and always confident. His makeup is the perfect mold for a Big Ten quarterback.

"I'm an extreme competitor," he said. "I want to be the absolute best player I can be, and I want to help this team win a championship."

Had Appleby left Purdue for a MAC school and gone on to a successful stint as a starting quarterback, it would be hard to fault his decision. No competitor wants to watch from the sidelines.

There's no pity party to be had for Appleby. That's not what he's about. It takes heart to believe in yourself through tough times.

Appleby wants to be a Boilermaker, a starting quarterback and a champion.

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.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Boiler Sports Report Top Stories