- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Purdue coach Danny Hope isn't shy about playing multiple quarterbacks, as the past two seasons have shown.
He made sure the Boilers have plenty of options under center with the 2012 recruiting class.
Chicago product Robert Gregory announced Friday night that he had signed with Purdue, giving the Boilers four quarterbacks in their recruiting haul. Signal callers Austin Appleby, Aloyis Gray and Bilal Marshall all signed with the team Wednesday.
It's not uncommon for a team to take a quarterback in every recruiting class, and some classes will feature two signal callers. But three quarterbacks in one class is unusual and four is extremely rare.
Purdue rotated Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve at quarterbacks in 2011 and had to go deep on its depth chart in 2010 because of injury. TerBush and Marve will compete with Rob Henry, who returns from an ACL injury, for the starting job in spring camp. The Boilers lose both Marve and TerBush after the season, leaving Henry and Sean Robinson as the top options heading into 2013.
Hope said Wednesday that all of the freshmen will have opportunities to compete at quarterback. Three of the four signal callers — Gregory, Marshall and Gray — are dual-threat types with the potential to play elsewhere, while Appleby is more of a pro-style passer.
"The last couple of years out of necessity we've had to incorporate some dual quarterback systems and plans, if you will," Hope said. "We can kind of hold true to that with these guys because they're very athletic. So we'll give them every opportunity to compete at the quarterback position."
Purdue evaluated Gray as a wide receiver, the position he played as a junior, and Hope acknowledged he hasn't seen Gray throw a pass. Hope said Marshall, who "has sprinter's speed," reminds him of Henry, who nearly switched to defensive back in the spring of 2010 before being used at quarterback.
Gregory received strong marks during the recruiting process. He originally committed to Arkansas but backed up because the Hogs didn't want him to play quarterback.
Bottom line: Purdue is recruiting different types of quarterbacks under Hope, and the team now has plenty of options for the future.
"I like the idea of having a dual-threat quarterback who we can develop," Hope said. "... It fits right along the lines of what we've been trying to do the last couple of years."