Purdue could be in a very, very good sot when it comes to its quarterback situation for the next several seasons. Rob Henry has a very slight lead over Danny Etling heading into fall camp. Etling was a former Elite 11 performer along with potential third stringer Austin Appleby. Both Etling and Appleby are freshmen, meaning they will battle for the 2014 starting job if one does not win the position this year from Henry.
Of course, both could see a true freshman in the fall of 2014 outperform both as David Blough became the first Purdue recruit to reach the Elite 11 Finals. He performed this past weekend at The Opening and turned several heads by leading the standings for the first two days before finishing sixth.
2013 Final Rankings- 1) Sean White 2) Allen 3) Grier 4) Heard 5) Park 6) Blough 7) Barker 8) Rubenzer 9) Kaaya 10) Watson 11) Carta-Samuels— Elite11 (@Elite11) July 4, 2013
Out of curiosity I caught a little bit of one of his 7-on-7 games on ESPNU over the long weekend to see what he was about. Blough has drawn several comparisons to Drew Brees and I can see why simply from the way he carries himself. Granted, this was a 7-on-7 competition in the middle of July and not a key Big Ten game in October, but Blough seemed to have what I like to call The Presence.
Purdue has had some very good quarterbacks. Kyle Orton was solid and has had a lengthy NFL career. Robert Marve was talented, but injury-prone. Even Curtis Painter was good enough to put up big numbers and at least last a little while in the NFL. Brees was different though. Brees is not only supremely talented, but he carries himself with an air of confidence that is not cocky, but seems to characterized his leadership and cool-headedness.
Whenever Brees was on the field you felt like he would find a way for Purdue to win just because of The Presence. With even a guy like Orton you didn't feel that. Orton was good, but after The Fumble it seemed to take the air out of everyone and turn the collective karma against the program. Even though he got us in position to tie in that game, the overwhelming sense of "oh crap NOW what?" pushed the field goal wide.
With Brees, it was different. It is hard to describe, but even after his horrible interception against Ohio State you felt like he would find a way to get the ball in the end zone and win. Words can't even describe it. The Presence is just a feeling you get from watching a guy, like you know he is in total command and not shaken at all.
I felt like I saw that when I watch Blough. Again, it is very, very early to truly compare him to Brees, but there was that intangible sense there that reminded you of Drew when he was in the huddle for our Boilermakers. Who knows if the same results will follow, but at least The Presence is there. A lot of other experts agreed that Blough could be something special:
Blough has drawn praise from Elite 11 chief Trent Dilfer , who praised Blough's competitiveness and said he's "about as technically sound as you're going to find." CBSsports.com's Bruce Feldman tweeted Monday, "Surprised to see how low online QB rankings of #Purdue commit David Blough are. He's looking better than most 4/5-star guys at @Elite11."
Purdue was the only major-conference school to offer Blough, a Carrolton, Texas, native who hopes to follow another Texas signal caller, Drew Brees, to great success in West Lafayette, Ind.
It helps a lot that Blough obviously looks up to Brees and wants to emulate him as much as possible. Brees is well on his way to the NFL Hall of Fame, so that alone would be enough for any player to want to copy him. His mechanics are very good as well:
Despite being listed at 6'1, Blough plays bigger than his size and has drawn praise for his high-level mechanics, which allow him to leverage the football to the greatest extent possible, meaning that he can achieve accuracy and velocity that are unusual for his size.
One of the things that set Brees apart was his uncanny ability to know exactly when he could tuck the ball and run for a big gain. He is far from a scrambler, but Brees rushed for an impressive 521 yards and five touchdowns his senior season. You don't see it in a 7-on-7 drill much, but Blough has the size and foot speed to at least be a threat in the running game. That keeps teams honest from dropping too many guys into coverage, allowing a good QB to pick defenses apart.
Going forward Blough's performance against the best of the best likely elevates him in the eyes of every recruiting service not run by Terry Hutchens. It would not surprise me to see him crack 4-stars and maybe even some top 250 lists along the way.
Before you get scared, Blough is a solid Purdue commit. He had a Purdue visor on all weekend and seems to honor loyalty tot he fact we were the first major program to offer him. I don't think we're in any danger of losing him at all.
As for when we will see him play, that is a tougher question. If Etling wins the job this fall I can see him becoming a four-year starter. Allowing for a redshirt year in 2014, that would allow for two full years for Blough to be his caddy, so to speak, before taking over in 2017. Obviously, Blough could come in and challenge immediately next season as well. It all depends on what Etling and Appleby do ahead of him.
Either way, Purdue is in excellent shape on paper.