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July 11, 2011

QB rotation likely

Last year, Purdue had to play a bunch of quarterbacks, because of injuries.

This year, it may do so again, but this time by its own choosing.

Since the conclusion of spring, Boilermaker coaches have talked about the possibility of playing at least two quarterbacks in 2011, with sophomore Rob Henry and senior Robert Marve expected to compete for the starting position during training camp.

Marve opened last season as the starter, but was injured in Week 4. Henry was the starter the rest of the season, though he missed action after tearing up his finger at Ohio State.

"I think we will play a couple of them," offensive coordinator Gary Nord said. "I think Rob Henry is going to be our starting quarterback. We will see how Robert Marve's knee progresses. We are not going to let someone like Robert Marve or Caleb TerBush sit on the sideline and not allow them to help this team out.

"Rob Henry plays so reckless and so hard, so in 12 games, he will get hit. We don't want to kill him at the beginning of the season."

Henry, who was named a team captain after just one season, exited the spring No. 1 on the depth chart, the caveat to that being that Marve couldn't participate in spring ball while recovering from knee surgery, a procedure that often takes a toll on both knees.

If he's close to fully recovered by training camp, Marve will almost certainly get a shot to compete for the job he lost to injury a year ago.

If not, his outlook for at least a role on game days will still be a good one.

At the start of last season, Marve was handling most of the snaps under center, but Henry did work in here and there simply to add a running threat to the offense.

The same sort of rotation could be applied in 2011.

Making it an especially likely scenario this fall will be the flexibility afforded by Henry's versatility.

Maybe the team's finest overall athlete, Henry also played running back and receiver at times last season. As Nord boldly states, "Rob can play any skill position and he may be the best one (we have) at it."

"Whatever I can do and wherever my talents are needed, if we're winning games, then I'm happy," Henry said, "because I hate to lose and I'm not going to care if I'm playing quarterback or offensive line. If my talents can be utilized effectively for us to win, I'm all for it."

Marve's name's been made on his skills as a drop-back and a roll-out passer. Henry's athleticism is his defining characteristic. In 2010, Purdue incorporated a read-option component to its running game that was very effective at times.

Coaches say TerBush, who was ineligible in 2010, could even factor in, too, however uncommon it may seem for three healthy quarterbacks to see consistent playing time.

Regardless, the one thing that is clear right now is that Henry enters preseason practice atop the depth chart.

Though it's not absolutely set in stone yet that that will remain so come September, Henry acted this summer - when a quarterback's leadership can be especially key - as if it would be.

"I've kind of looked at it that way ever since I arrived on campus," Henry said. "I've always wanted to prepare to be the No. 1 quarterback. I always want to do things as if I'm the No. 1 quarterback, and so nothing has changed in my mind. I guess being a captain, your responsibilities kind of change in regard to making decisions for the team, but as far as my mentality as an individual player, it hasn't changed at all."

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