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Purdue's Henry to open spring as top QB

2/25/2011

Robert Marve is still on the mend following his second ACL surgery and will be limited to seven-on-seven and a few other drills during spring practice.

Caleb TerBush has done plenty in practice but appeared in only one game -- way back in 2009 -- because academic issues kept him off the field last season.

Rob Henry started six games last fall but battled a nasty hand injury and is only just a rising sophomore who a year ago seemed more likely to see the field at safety than quarterback.

Given these facts, it is safe to assume Purdue's quarterback competition is wide open? Not exactly.

"I'm not going to consider it wide open," Boilers offensive coordinator Gary Nord told ESPN.com on Friday. "I'm planning on Rob Henry being the starting quarterback and going through spring. We've got Caleb TerBush and Sean Robinson slotted at the No. 2 spot. And we'll have to wait and see how Marve rehabilitates and recovers from the knee."

Purdue opens spring practice Wednesday and holds its spring game April 9.

Marve, who transferred to Purdue from Miami and started the first four games last fall before tearing his ACL, still could work his way back into the starting mix. But after a season where Purdue lost so many key offensive players to injury, the team can't take anything for granted.

Coach Danny Hope made it clear last month, telling me, "I'm not going to put all my eggs in those baskets."

"[Marve] was a starter when he got hurt," Nord said, "and our rule of thumb is you can't lose your starting position via injury. But this situation is going to be interesting. Robert Marve is an unbelievably talented young man. I don't see how you keep him out of the offense in some way.

"He's going to help us win football games, there's no question about that."

But Nord feels comfortable with Henry as his top option when Purdue hits the practice field.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Henry led Purdue to victories in his first two career starts before suffering a laceration on his throwing hand in a blowout loss to Ohio State. Henry led the team in rushing with 547 yards and four touchdowns but had some ups and downs as a passer, completing 53.1 percent of his attempts with eight touchdown strikes and seven interceptions.

"I'm very comfortable with him," Nord said. "He's extremely calm and intelligent, has a very good head on his shoulders from a quarterback standpoint and a good demeanor about him. We have to continue to work on his between-the-tackles passes, throwing the ball up the field within the pocket.

"He's realized that and he's been working very hard on it in the offseason."