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February 27, 2012

Appleby ready to compete

Austin Appleby certainly would seem to have some physical traits that make him college-ready.

He has a prototypical pocket quarterback build at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, and he and his quarterbacks coach think he has the arm strength and accuracy necessary to have success at the college level.

But, perhaps more impressive, are the intangibles Appleby will bring to Purdue.

Especially his mature approach to preparation.

Appleby already has sat down with Jim Ballard, a former pro quarterback who has coached him for the last year, to watch film of Purdue from last season. He's already asked for a copy of the team's playbook.

"He is so off-the-chart from a mental standpoint on how he understands coverages and concepts," Ballard said. "He'll go into (Purdue's) camp, when he gets there, and he'll know the playbook inside-out before he takes a snap.

"From a mental standpoint, he's going to know it as well as the coaches. The better you know your playbook, the easier it is to process and the more confident you are."

Appleby said he "loves" to watch film. If he doesn't have anything to do on a weekend, he'll head down to the basement at his house and put film on, whether it's his own from high school, college or even NFL games, just to try to learn as much as he can.

It has helped improve his knowledge of the game, but so has having a dad who is a former player and passionate about the game.

"Ever since I was little, he's been grooming me to be a quarterback," Appleby said. "When I was just a little guy, he just told me to watch the defenses, and I didn't necessarily know what I was looking at. I've grown to love this game so much. I owe it all to him for teaching me everything I know. I know I can always turn to him if I ever have any questions."

But, soon, Appleby will be leaving dad and family to come to West Lafayette. He expects that to be a bit bittersweet.

"It's going to be a little different not being around mommy," he said with a laugh. "Not having her home cooking, having her waking me up every morning and having dinner ready for when you come home. It'll be an adjustment, but everybody has to make it and I'll be ready for it.

"I'm so excited."

Once on campus, Appleby will be among a group of 10 quarterbacks in the fall. Not all likely will stay at the position, but Appleby didn't seem worried about the high numbers.

He knew exactly the situation he was getting into when he signed with Purdue: Wait for a year, learning from players who have starting experience and then seize his opportunity.

"I'm going to get in there and compete every single day," he said. "I don't doubt myself and I'll be able to earn my spot on the field. The cards will fall as they will. I know I'm going to have to get in there and learn as much as I can and sit behind the upperclassmen and when it's my opportunity to take over, I'm going to make sure I'm ready.

"There's high expectations, but I don't think I feel any pressure. I have a great staff in (quarterbacks) coach (Gary) Nord and Coach (Danny) Hope. Coach Nord and I have been talking back and forth. I'm as excited as he is to start working with him and to learn as much as I can from the upperclassmen and get myself ready to play. Pressure is what you make it. I worked so hard for this opportunity. Not many people get to play football at this level. I'm just living my dream, and I'm going to take advantage every single day and I'm going to work hard to make the most of every moment."




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