Siller's dismissal clears path for Elliott at Purdue

April, 3, 2009
4/03/09
5:42
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Joey Elliott has waited his turn, longer than almost any other Big Ten player. He backed up Curtis Painter at Purdue for three years, finally closed the gap last fall and then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at Northwestern.

 
  Sandra Dukes/Icon SMI
  Barring a major upset, Joey Elliott will make his first career start to open the season.

After Friday's news at Purdue, Elliott's wait is most likely over.

Sophomore Justin Siller, Elliott's primary competition for the starting quarterback spot, has been dismissed from Purdue for violating academic policy. After participating in Purdue's first few workouts of the spring, Siller sat out Wednesday's practice to focus on his academics.

Head coach Danny Hope indicated Siller would be back at practice today. Instead, he's out of school completely.

"It's a disappointing conclusion and, as a football team, we feel for Justin and his family," Hope said in a prepared statement released today. "Justin made a mistake -- a bad decision -- and deserved to be punished. Our hope was that he would not be punished to the extent he has been. Now it is our responsibility to accept the decision and move forward. Justin is a fine young man, and we wish him nothing but the best."

There aren't many details about the cause for Siller's dismissal, and Purdue's student-athlete privacy policy prohibits Hope from elaborating on the situation. Siller could reapply for admission following the 2009-10 academic year.

Elliott entered spring ball as the front-runner at quarterback, but Siller started three games last fall and brought more versatility to the position. Siller switched from quarterback to running back last fall before injuries forced him to return to his original position. He led Purdue past Michigan in his first career start and showed promising signs as a runner.

This certainly isn't the way Elliott wanted to earn a starting job, and he'll still need to hold off redshirt freshman Caleb TerBush, who Hope said has had a strong spring. But Elliott's experience (10 games) trumps the other quarterbacks, and he brings good leadership skills to the table. Barring a major surprise, Elliott will make his first career start Sept. 5 against Toledo.

"He'll come to you sometimes with some play-calling ideas, some ideas about how we're going about our business," Hope told me on Monday. "He's a pretty special guy, he really is."

It's a good thing Purdue didn't make dramatic changes on offense despite bringing in a new coordinator in Gary Nord. The Boilers will still run the shotgun spread, with a few tweaks here and there.

Elliott, who wants to enter coaching immediately after he's done playing, should absorb things well this spring. But depth is now a major issue going into the fall.

Hope talked Monday about how he was more concerned with developing all of the Boilers' quarterbacks rather than selecting a clear No. 1. Purdue has a clear No. 1 now in Elliott, but it can't afford any more attrition.

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