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June 24, 2010
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.
"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.