It's official. Danny Etling has enrolled early to be a student at Purdue University...and later tonight, Darrell Hazell will no longer be a part-time coach at Kent State...And with this, the quarterback competition begins.
RS Senior, Rob Henry is still a QB at this point...and he's made it very clear that he wants to play quarterback for Purdue. Henry has thrown for about 1,200 yards, 11 TDs, 8 Ints and completed about 54% of his passes at QB at Purdue. He started a handful of games a few seasons ago, is a former captain of the team and by all accounts is a pretty good teammate. Henry is a dangerous runner, but has unusual throwing mechanics as he doesn't seem to follow all the way through. He will seek a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA as he tore his ACL after he had already redshirted. It'd be shocking if the NCAA didn't give him a sixth year since he's a great student and a guy who's involved in the community. BUT, they didn't give Keith Smith an extra year a few years ago...so never underestimate the NCAA's ineptitude.
Henry is 6'2" and weighs 200 pounds.
RS Freshman Austin Appleby was a Nike Elite 11 QB coming out of high school in Ohio. If you've watched him pass, you probably notice that he has a lively arm and, at least in my opinion, the best mechanics of the quarterbacks in the stable. While he's a dropback passer, he's a pretty good athlete that can run as well.
Appleby is the biggest QB in Purdue's stable at a legit 6'5" 235 pounds.
RS Freshman Bilal Marshall was a dual-threat QB out of high school in Dade County, Florida. Marshall ran quite a bit in high school and his throwing mechanics needed work (the last time I saw him throw)...but he can get out of trouble with his feet very quickly. From what I've heard, he's been an apt pupil since coming onto campus. Not a ton of people are giving him a shot to start next season, but I think he's a darkhorse because Hazell's Kent State team ran the option this season.
Marshall 6'3" and weighs 170...but has a frame that should be able to put on 10 pounds by next fall.
True Freshman Danny Etling is a four-star recruit out of Indiana whose team struggled during his Senior season. Much like Appleby the year before a few key injuries might have helped keep his offense in check during his final season in high school...and Purdue benefitted from that. I thought he would surely receive more offers, but a lackluster Senior year kept some away. He was invited to the Elite 11 National contest, but didn't make the finals. His cousin, Joe Holland, helped convince him to come to Purdue...and through the transition of Hope leaving and Hazell being hired, he stayed true. He's a dropback passer with decent mechanics, but doesn't throw completely over the top.
Etling is 6'3" and weighs 200 pounds.
Walk-on (So) Parker, who saw limited action this season, will also compete for the starting job.
Competition is nothing but positive and having options with different skillsets is probably exactly what Hazell wants to see the first day in camp later this year. The only downfall for Hazell is that there's probably not one guy who is the clear-cut favorite...at least at this point since none of them started last season. We're still about two months away...but workouts will start this week.
With Hazell's open practices, I'm hoping to get to see these guys with my very own LASIK-repaired eyes in March.