For Marve, One Last Shot at a Starting Job
By Paul Myerberg // Mar 7, 2012
Robert Marve broke his arm in a car accident months after he signed with Miami (Fla.) in February of 2007, which in hindsight can be viewed as a harbinger of rocky days to come. He took a redshirt that fall, in 2007, and was the starter — technically — for all but one game in 2008, when he split time with then-freshman Jacory Harris; Marve started, but Harris was the Hurricanes’ better option. With his competition looking like Miami’s future at the position, Marve, who was also going through some academic difficulties, opted to transfer following the 2008 season.
If you recall, Miami took a Randy Edsall-like hard line on Marve’s transfer: Randy Shannon thought a few in-state and SEC programs had reached out to Marve while he was still part of the program, and put those teams on his no-transfer list. Marve eventually went to Purdue, where he was expected to take over under center after sitting out his transfer season.
Marve tore his A.C.L. in 2009, but no matter: he had to sit out the year anyway, so it wasn’t as if his knee injury hurt Purdue’s bottom line. Back to full health by the following August, Marve grabbed the starting role heading into the season and started Purdue’s first four games before again tearing his A.C.L. in a September loss to Toledo.
He returned last fall, missing the first two games while still recovering from knee surgery but eventually taking snaps in 10 of Purdue’s final 11 games. Never a starter, Marve was still a fairly central figure in the Boilermakers’ offense, splitting time with Caleb TerBush after Rob Henry suffered his own knee injury and throwing four touchdowns, including one in Purdue’s bowl win over Western Michigan.
It’s safe to say that Marve’s road has not followed the typical path; it’s also safe to say that he’s never fulfilled his potential, whether with the Hurricanes or the Boilermakers. But Marve will have one more year to salvage his once-promising career.
The N.C.A.A. granted Marve a sixth season of eligibility in January, giving him one last chance at claiming a full-time starting role. It’s easy to forget that Marve has never truly been given the shot at leading an offense; he shared duties with Harris in 2008, had his season shortened to injury in 2010 and split time with TerBush last fall.
It won’t be easy for Marve to distance himself from the competition. After Marve completed 9 of 22 attempts for 91 yards in a loss to Notre Dame last October, Danny Hope said that he “made some great throws but didn’t manage the offense all that well.” Hope has criticized Marve’s tendency to freelance — playing “out of the system” — a complaint that has plagued Marve at both of his college stops.
And then there’s Purdue’s depth at the position. Marve is one of four quarterbacks with past starting experience, joining Henry, TerBush and Sean Robinson. But he’s only one of three competing for the starting job, as Hope moved Robinson to linebacker for the spring. The move was made because Robinson seemed like a long shot to crack into the rotation, which might reflect well on Marve’s opportunity for playing time.
But the job is Henry’s to lose, if he can remain healthy. Or return to full health: Henry is still on the mend after tearing his A.C.L. last August, though he recently told Mike Carmin of the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier that his goal is to play in Purdue’s spring game in April.
It’ll be an uphill battle for Marve; he hasn’t shown Hope the sort of consistency Purdue desires at quarterback, and a healthy Henry will be hard to unseat from atop the depth chart. But perhaps Marve, now healthy himself, can make one more run at a starting job. Yesterday, Marve intimated that his knee continued to be a nuisance throughout last season, limiting both his efficiency during practice and his mobility inside the pocket.
It’s now or never. Marve knows this, telling Carmin, “I’m going to give it all I’ve got. I feel like I have a lot to offer.” Unfortunately, all signs coming out of Purdue point toward Marve again serving in a backup role — perhaps as the Boilermakers’ third-string quarterback. That would be a disappointing finale for Marve, but it would be a fitting conclusion to a promising career that has failed to reach its promising potential.
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