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Purdue freshman quarterback moves to No. 1

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Henry goes from quarterback to safety

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Did you see Purdue's Rob Henry going from quarterback to safety?

Seriously, did you?

Well, brace yourself. We're about to see if this experiment will work.

As expected, true freshman Danny Etling is the new No. 1 quarterback. Not expected was Henry, the previous No. 1, taking a shot at safety, a position the fifth-year senior hasn't played since his early high school days.

"Rob is the most unselfish guy I've been around in a long time," coach Darrell Hazell said via a www.purduesports.com video. "We talked (Tuesday) and one of the things he said was 'Whatever I can do to help the football team do, I'll do.' I love him for that."

During Wednesday's practice, Henry got sideline advice from injured safety Landon Feichter, the former Bishop Luers standout who is sidelined after having surgery for a broken leg.

“Landon has a great football mind,” Hazell said. “Rob was picking his brain. It's important to Rob to help this team.”

The goal would be to use Henry's speed and athleticism in a better way than just have him standing on the sidelines. A big question -- can Henry hit and tackle? Can he fight off blocks and make plays? Can he cover receivers?

Nobody knows. Purdue will use this bye week to find out.

"We're going to see if he can play some safety," Hazell said. "If not, there's definitely some things we can do offensively with him -- we know that -- but we wanted to give him a look since we're so thin in the back end."

Etling will take charge after getting his first college experience last Saturday when he replaced Henry late in the first half.

“Danny didn't say much,” Hazell said. “I told him, don't force things, take care of the ball.”

The change came, Hazell added, because “We needed more of a jump-start.”

Purdue's offense ranks as the worst in the Big Ten. The Boilers' next game is Oct. 12 at home against defense-challenged Nebraska. Hazell said he knows the Cornhuskers will likely come after Etling early and often.

“If I'm playing against a young quarterback,” Hazell said, “I'd heat him up and see if he can handle it. (Etling) has to see what he sees and not guess.”

Etling figures to be very nervous for the first game.

“As a coach you try to calm him down,” Hazell said. “He'll be sky high. As long as he goes through his reads and progressions, as long as he understands that every play doesn't have to be a big play and that the best play might be a throwaway, he'll be fine.”

Meanwhile, freshman receivers B.J. Knauf and Jordan Woods have been suspended for Monday's arrests on suspicion of theft.

Knauf is suspended for the next two games. He also has to do community service and extra conditioning. He'll lose his tickets for the two suspended games.

“I know he's remorseful,” Hazell said. “He made a bad mistake.”

According to Gold and Black.com, a Purdue sports publication, Knauf read a statement after Wednesday's practice that said,

“I just want to say how ashamed and sorry I am for the way I represented this community, university, receiving corps, the team, the seniors, anyone involved at Purdue University, anyone who supported me in the past, here and home. I'm really sorry for my action and the way I conducted myself. I've taken steps already. I'm going to continue to do so to better my image and hopefully come back and rebuild by image. Thank you.”

Knauf has nine catches for 95 yards. He's also rushed for 90 more yards. He scored two touchdowns and has 306 all-purpose yards.

Woods is suspended indefinitely. Hazell didn't say why Woods' suspension was longer, only that, “It's the totality of everything that happened.”