Robert Marve is saying all the right things and backing them up with his actions.
While other athletes spurn the Midwest for Miami, Marve's decision to leave the U. for Purdue has, by all accounts, been a great one. After being named Purdue's starting quarterback entering preseason camp Tuesday, Marve talked about growing up, about being humbled, about being hungry, about accountability to himself and to others, and about opportunity.
He had the chance to lead at Miami as a redshirt freshman in 2008, but squandered it. He knows he'll be a different leader this time around.
"I realized you have to be a captain off the field also," he said. "You can’t go messing around, making mistakes off the field, and trying to be a leader on the field. That wasn’t acceptable."
It's encouraging to hear Marve talk about his turnaround, but I'm still interested to see how he responds when things don't go right. What if he throws three interceptions in the opener against Notre Dame? What if his receivers drop some key passes? What if he finds himself in a tough situation off the field?
Purdue head coach Danny Hope doesn't share this curiosity.
"Before he came here, a lot of things didn’t go his way," Hope said. "He demonstrated by coming to Purdue, working hard at Purdue and sitting out, winning the respect of his teammates, he’s being doing those things all along. He’s a smart guy who can learn from his mistakes."
Hope's confidence in Marve came through loud and clear Tuesday.
Although Marve both entered and exited spring practice with an edge in the quarterback competition, Hope waited through the summer months to name a starter for camp, which opens Aug. 6. The coach wanted to assess Marve's health -- the quarterback didn't practice last fall because of a torn ACL -- and also Marve's academic progress.
"I wouldn’t say academics has always been his passion in life," Hope said, "but he’s really stepped it up the last couple of months. ... And we believe his knee has come a long way."
Hope got the answers he needed and saw no need to wait any longer to name a starter.
So what type of quarterback is Purdue getting?
"A damn good one," Hope said. "He’s got outstanding arm strength, he can beat you with his legs, he can beat you with his arm. He’s an A-plus quarterback prospect.”
Although Miami is a lot closer to Marve's native Tampa than West Lafayette, the junior said joining Purdue was "like going back home." He had familiarity with Hope and offensive coordinator Gary Nord, and Purdue's spread offense is almost a carbon copy of the system he ran at Plant High School, where he won Florida Mr. Football honors in 2006.
After sitting out last fall, the spring gave Marve a chance to acclimate his body. He said the knee is 100 percent and wants to spend camp working on a quicker release and when to go for the big play.
Asked if he was relieved to be named the pre-camp starter, Marve talked about a different type of relief, "to be around a bunch of individuals I believe in, an organization I believe in."
"I understand this is my second opportunity," he continued. "I understand I don’t have much time left, and the people I’m around, I don’t want to let them down."