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June 24, 2010

Marve making most of his second chance

Purdue quarterback Robert Marve finally is out of the spotlight. And he likes it that way.

Marve, a former starter at Miami, has settled into a quiet existence in West Lafayette, Ind., forging what appears to be a perfect marriage between a wayward player and a teetering program.

It's simple: Marve and Purdue need each other.

"The first thing I want to say, like I always want to say is, I just thank God for being out here," said Marve, one of the highest-profile transfers in the nation this season. "You go through so many things and adversities in life that it's a great feeling when you can go out onto the field and play. I just want to thank God for my situation."

This is a second chance for Marve -- a last chance, really. He has two years to get it right, two years to show that all of the hype that surrounded him coming out of Tampa Plant, where he was Florida's ""Mr. Football," was merited.

Purdue needs him to help steady a listing ship. This is a program that has missed the postseason in each of the past two seasons after playing in a bowl in 10 of Joe Tiller's 12 seasons from 1997-2008. It's critical for the Boilermakers to make a bowl this season to restore viability and credibility to the program. Attendance and interest is lagging.

Marve didn't head to Purdue to sit on the bench. But the coaches didn't name a starting quarterback exiting spring practice, meaning Marve will continue to battle sophomore Caleb TerBush and redshirt freshman Rob Henry (another former Florida high school star) for the job when camp opens in August. Still, it would be shock if the Marve wasn't under center when Purdue opens the season at Notre Dame on Sept. 4.

"I haven't heard any negative stories about him," Purdue coach Danny Hope said. "He's a transfer. It doesn't have to have a negative connotation. I always equate it to being a divorcee. It doesn't mean you have a defect in character; it means it didn't work out. There aren't any horror stories out there about Robert Marve that I've ever uncovered.

Moving on
Here are 12 other transfers who, like Purdue's Robert Marve, need to play big roles for their new teams this season:

Colorado WR Toney Clemons (from Michigan)
The buzz
: Clemons never lived up to his high school hype with the Wolverines, and Rich Rodriguez's offense wasn't the best fit. Colorado's more traditional offense does seem like a good fit, and the Buffs are in dire need of playmakers on the outside.

Kansas State WR Chris Harper (Oregon)
The buzz
: Harper is a great athlete who played quarterback with the Ducks before transferring to a school in his home state. The Wildcats' offense was one-dimensional last season -- "Here, Daniel Thomas, take the ball and run" -- and K-State coaches need to take advantage of Harper's versatility this year.

Cincinnati WR Vidal Hazelton (USC)
The buzz
: Hazelton was solid in 2007, then fell off the map in 2008 and decided to transfer. Cincy needs someone to be a consistent No. 2 receiver to Armon Binns, and Hazelton certainly has the talent to do so.

Western Michigan LB Dex Jones (Wisconsin)
The buzz
: Jones (6-0/248) brings a physical nature to a defense that needs to get much tougher. Western Michigan was atrocious defensively last season, and a staff chance and an influx of talent is expected to make things a bit better this year.

Nevada SS Corbin Louks (Utah)
The buzz
: Louks was a quarterback with the Utes and actually went into fall drills last season expected to win the starting job. But he got beaten out and decided to move on. Utah coaches had toyed with playing him at safety, and Nevada coaches went ahead and moved him to the other side of the ball. Louks is a big-time athlete who will need to provide a steady hand for a secondary that has been a sieve the past few seasons.

Rice RB Sam McGuffie (Michigan)
The buzz
: McGuffie was a touted high school player in the Houston area who saw a lot of playing time as a true freshman with the Wolverines in 2008. But he decided to leave and should play a big role for a rebuilding Owls offense. McGuffie's receiving skills should be put to good use out of the backfield.

Tulane DE Dezman Moses (Iowa)
The buzz
: Moses should provide a talent upgrade for a defense that sorely needs more talent. Moses runs well and coaches hope he can provide a consistent pass-rush threat out of the Green Wave's 4-2-5 scheme

Louisiana Tech WR Ahmad Paige (Tennessee)
The buzz
: Paige is one of two Tennessee transfers (the other is RB Lennon Creer) and one of three from an SEC school (the other is WR Tim Molton, who left LSU) expected to provide big-play ability in a revamped offense. The Bulldogs have gone from a run-first approach to a pass-happy scheme installed by new coach Sonny Dykes, a former Mike Leach disciple. Paige really did nothing with the Vols, but he had a strong spring and should become a deep threat for the Bulldogs.

Arizona State WR Aaron Pflugrad (Oregon)
The buzz
: The Sun Devils lost their top two receivers last season and are rebuilding at the position; Pflugrad -- whose dad, Robin, was an ASU assistant from 1995-2000 --should see a lot of time in the Sun Devils' three- and four-receiver sets. He's a possession receiver known for his route-running ability.

Eastern Michigan FS Latarrius Thomas (Louisville)
The buzz
: EMU was pitiful on defense last season, and Thomas is expected to play a big role as the Eagles' last line of defense. Thomas is a good athlete who can run. Second-year coach Ron English is a former defensive coordinator who should put Thomas' athleticism to good use.

Arizona State QB Steven Threet (Michigan)
The buzz
: Arizona State has received uneven quarterback play for the past two seasons, but Threet -- who is on his third school -- should provide the needed consistency. He started in 2008 for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, but Rodriguez's version of the spread was a bad fit. While Arizona State has installed some facets of the spread, the Sun Devils like their quarterback to be comfortable as a dropback passer. Arizona State has a stout defense, so as long as the Sun Devils receive competent quarterback play, they should be bowl-bound.

New Mexico DT Ugo Uzodinma (Illinois)
The buzz
: Last season was a disaster for the Lobos, who couldn't stop anybody. Uzodinma and fellow Illinois transfer Reggie Ellis should provide some athleticism and bulk along the defensive front. Uzodinma has a solid spring and earned a starting job. The Lobos have the makings of a good front seven, assuming Uzodinma, Ellis and some other defensive newcomers play to their potential.

15 OTHERS TO WATCH: Ohio QB Phil Bates (Iowa State); UCF RB Jeff Brinson (Iowa); Florida International QB Wesley Carroll (Mississippi State); Colorado State RB Raymond Carter (UCLA); TCU RB Aundre Dean (UCLA); Alabama CB Phelon Jones (LSU); Fresno State DE Chris Lewis (Miami); Tulane LB Trent Mackey (Duke); Memphis WR Jermaine McKenzie (Miami); Toledo SS Diauntae Morrow (Iowa); Western Michigan OT Dann O'Neill (Michigan); Kansas State WR Brodrick Smith (Minnesota); Memphis QB Cannon Smith (Miami); UCLA WR Josh Smith (Colorado); North Texas WR Tyler Stradford (Oklahoma).

"He's such a high-profile player who transferred in here, has never got a snap at Purdue and has more media presence than just about anybody on the football team."

He won't say it, but Marve is happy to be out of south Florida. His two-year Miami career ended up with more promise than production.

Marve arrived at Miami as one of the nation's top 10 quarterbacks; as a high school senior, he broke Tim Tebow's single-season state records for passing yards (4,380) and touchdowns (48). But he was involved in a car crash the summer before his freshman season, suffering a broken arm that forced him to redshirt in 2007.

In '08, Marve was suspended for the season opener after an off-field incident. But he started the next 11 games, often showing flashes of brilliance en route to completing 116 of 213 passes for 1,293 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

"I was impressed with him," said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, whose team lost to Miami with Marve at quarterback in 2008. "He's a heck of a talent. The other thing that struck me was that he was tough."

But Marve was suspended for academic reasons and missed the Emerald Bowl loss to California. Soon thereafter, UM coaches named Jacory Harris the starting quarterback for the '09 season and offensive coordinator Patrick Nix was fired.

Marve had had enough. He announced that he was transferring -- and the drama intensified.

It was believed Marve had interest in transferring to Tennessee, LSU or Florida. But Miami coaches put a caveat in the scholarship release, saying Marve couldn't transfer to any school in Florida or any in the SEC or ACC. Marve appealed to a school committee.

After some negative press, the university lifted some of the restrictions, allowing him to transfer to any school in the SEC other than Florida, Tennessee and LSU. Those schools were singled out because UM officials believed people representing Marve's family had contacted those schools regarding Marve's transfer. Marve still was prohibited from transferring to an ACC school. And the in-state ban was lifted somewhat, too, as Marve was allowed to transfer to USF and UCF.

But on May 20, 2009, Marve announced he would attend Purdue. Shortly thereafter, he tore an anterior cruciate ligament. Marve worked through the rehab while sitting out last season at Purdue, giving him time to think, grow and mature.

"He is a great kid who has done everything we have asked of him," Hope said. "He has a real passion for the game. He wants to get better. And his talent has been apparent. Even better, Robert has been a good teammate."

Recovered from his knee injury, Marve showed glimpses in spring drills of the athletic ability and arm strength that made him such a touted recruit.

"Like anyone, there is some growing up to do from high school to college," Hope said. "But he has worked extremely hard since arriving. I am very proud of what he has done academically.

"He didn't have a very glamorous academic portfolio when he arrived on campus, and we have talked about the importance of him being a top student. And he has done a great job in the classroom since arrive, helping us achieve our academic goals of having a team GPA over 3.0."

Marve is spending this summer working with his receivers to develop timing and chemistry. He has walked into a good situation on offense and has a chance to join the long list of great quarterbacks at Purdue, which has produced the likes of Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps, Jim Everett and Drew Brees, among others.

"The game is slowing down for me tremendously," Marve said. "The one thing I've learned is to take it one play at a time and see what the defense gives you and take it."

At this point, Marve will take anything. He's just happy to have this opportunity, happy to have a second chance.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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