Like any player who receives bad news about a serious injury -- much less a third one to the same joint -- Purdue quarterback Robert Marve was bummed out Sunday.
After finally showing what he can do at full strength in Purdue's first two games, Marve went down against Notre Dame with an all-too familiar injury: a tear in his left ACL. Marve suffered a tear in the summer of 2009 and again tore the knee ligament in the fourth game of the 2010 season. He already has received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, so this season is it.
And that's precisely why Marve intends to return to the field.
"I'm going to come back," Marve told reporters Tuesday in West Lafayette. "That's my mindset, that's where I'm at. … Whatever it takes."
While a speedy return from an ACL tear seems hard to fathom, Marve noted that other college players have made similar comebacks.
Marve has several incentives to return, but the biggest is finishing the season with his teammates, who bombarded him with text messages Sunday. He felt "kind of like a jerk" for not responding to them immediately, but then he looked in the mirror and decided: We can make this work.
"I'm in a lot better place mentally going into it," he said. "I'm much closer with the guys on the team now. I didn't realize how many guys had my back until I got hurt like this. ... I'm close to this team. It’s almost senior year of high school football again, where you don’t want to leave your guys."
Marve declined to reveal the extent of the tear, only saying, "It’s not as bad as everyone thinks." Surgery is an option, one he won't pursue now because it will end his season and college career. While postponing surgery could impact his chances of playing beyond Purdue, Marve isn't thinking that far ahead.
His said the leg feels OK and that he could do five-step drops right now with no issues.
"I have to make sure all the swelling is out of my knee," he said. "And I've got to get back to a place where I feel comfortable, where I say it’s ready to go. I'm not going to tell myself I'm ready to go if I'm not.
"I know my body better than anyone, so when I feel like I can go back out there and help the team, I will."
Marve won't dress for Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan but didn't rule out a return after an open week Sept. 29 against Marshall -- just three weeks after the injury. He won't be a cheerleader on Saturday, but rather a "teammate helping other teammates," namely fellow Boilers quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Rob Henry. He'll continue to log long hours at Purdue's facility, working on his core strength to compensate for a weakened leg.
As he reminded reporters Tuesday, "My arm's always been fine."
And with the Leaders division wide open, he hopes to use it for the Boilers as they make a potential title run.
"I don't know when [I'll return]," Marve said. "I don't want to sit out. This is my last shot at this. We're playing good football, smart football right now. I don't want to get too far out of it."