Former Plant High Star Robert Marve Answers Purdue’s Call -TBO
September 6, 2012Purdue quarterback Robert Marve has an extra bounce in his step, one that can be detected from more than 1,000 miles away.“He’s just happy to finally be healthy and being able to show the things he can really do,” said Plant High coach Robert Weiner, who communicates with his former quarterback almost daily.After two ACL tears, the second taking away a majority of Marve’s 2010 season, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Now, it’s time to make the most of that opportunity.
“You have to understand football is just a sport, but I know a lot of people get caught up in it,” Marve said. “I’m just looking forward to having fun. I’m finally healthy and bouncing around like a kid again. I feel good about that and whatever happens this year — I’m just going to go out swinging as hard as I can.”On Purdue’s depth chart, not much has changed at the quarterback position from last season. Officially, Marve remains the backup. Starter Caleb TerBush was suspended for the season-opening game against FCS team Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, giving Marve the start. Despite throwing for a career-high 295 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-6 victory, Marve will not start Saturday’s nationally televised game against Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC, Ch. 8). TerBush will start, with Marve and third-string quarterback Rob Henry also expected to play. That was the plan going into the season and it remains in place. “Robert is going to play a lot for us, but we’re going to keep things the way they are now just for continuity sake,” Purdue offensive coordinator Gary Nord said recently. “If he goes in there and is hot, he’ll stay in there and play.”
Marve’s first ACL tear occurred during a workout when he arrived on Purdue’s campus after transferring from the University of Miami after his freshman season. He made his Boilermakers debut at Notre Dame in the 2010 opener, completing 31-of-42 passes for 220 yards with two interceptions and one rushing touchdown.
The second ACL tear came three games later. The injuries cost Marve quality playing time even when he was on the field last season. The typical year-long recovery process from an ACL tear forced Marve to miss Purdue’s first two games last season, but he appeared in 10 of the final 11 games, completing 61 of 109 passes for 633 yards and four touchdowns. “Mentally he never had confidence in his knee last season,” Nord said. “Now you can tell there is no second guessing or wavering about making a cut or running with the ball.”
Marve’s best performance last season came in the Boilermakers’ 26-23 overtime win against visiting Ohio State, when he completed 10 of 13 passes for 91 yards and rushed for the winning touchdown. “(That game) kind of revived me a little bit with all of the surgeries I had,” Marve said. “Sometimes I questioned if this was the right thing to be doing or if it was meant to be. Then after going through spring (workouts) I saw how much fun I had when I didn’t have to worry about my knee.”
Marve has ditched the knee brace he wore during spring workouts, when he showed signs of returning to full health. Now he’s practicing at full speed on every play. “It’s the first time he’s been able to do that since the first time he injured his knee,” Purdue coach Danny Hope said. “Never getting that practice time sometimes had a debilitating effect on his performance in some games last season. He now understands the offense and manages the offense well.”
Weiner recalled a recent conversation with Marve in which the former Florida Mr. Football winner said he had a slight strain of his hamstring during a recent practice, but wasn’t worried, rather excited. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m still throwing it better than I’ve ever thrown it,’ ” Weiner said, adding Marve’s slight hamstring strain took a day or two to heal. Now healthy, the physical tools that made Marve the nation’s eighth-best pro-style quarterback prospect in 2008, according to Rivals.com, show through again. “He’s one of the most physically talented quarterbacks in the country,” Nord said. “He’s got to be up there with anybody in terms of arm strength, and he would be right up there with anybody with regards to foot speed and athleticism. He has unbelievable talent to work with.”