CHICAGO-- Robert Marve wants to be Drew Brees.
You know the Drew Brees I'm referring to, right? All-time great Purdue quarterback? Revitalized a program that desperately needed success? Took his team to a BCS bowl?
Well, the newest member of Purdue University's long line of distinguished quarterbacks is fixing his sights on the example Brees set in West Lafayette a decade ago.
"He's always been my favorite quarterback," said Marve of the legendary former Boilermaker. "I always was a big, big fan of Drew Brees.
"The way he played at Purdue is the way I want to play. He was a go-getter kind of guy: you never really knew how he did it, but he always got the job done."
Talk about setting your standards high.
But from what head coach Danny Hope had to say here at Big Ten Media Days, the junior signal-caller may just have the ability to live up to the impossible bar he's set for himself.
"Everything about Robert Marve excites me," Hope said. "He's, I think, the most talented quarterback I've been around from a total package."
Um, coach? Excuse me? Weren't you an assistant here a decade ago? What about that one Brees guy?
"Robert has more arm strength than Drew."
Okay, that's fine, but...
"Robert's much faster...fast enough to play many positions on our football team. Drew was only fast enough to play drop-back quarterback in a shotgun-style offense."
All right, so the Miami transfer may have an edge in physical skills, but there's more to being a quarterback than just being an athlete. How about, say, leadership?
"The leadership part and the camaraderie with players: Drew always had a bunch of the guys around him."
Now we're getting somewh...
"Robert always has a bunch of the guys around him. They're similar from that standpoint, from a confidence standpoint, from a presence in the huddle standpoint."
I give up. Are you telling me Marve is ahead of arguably Purdue's all-time greatest quarterback in every single area before he's even played a game in old gold and black?
"Well, Drew is probably the most accurate quarterback that ever lived."
Okay, thank you. Some sense of order in my world has been restored.
All kidding aside, though, the Purdue contingent here in Chicago couldn't have been more effusive in praising their quarterback. Star receiver Keith Smith in particular was almost giddy about teaming up with Marve during the upcoming season.
"From the first time we threw together, we had this little 'mesh'", Smith explained. "He knew what I was doing, I knew what he was thinking. Then when we actually sat down and watched film together--and kept on throwing throughout the summer--this has been the best connection I've had with any other quarterback.
"It just makes me so excited to get out there on Saturdays. I have complete confidence...when we call a play, something's gonna happen."
While Marve obviously didn't leave Miami, his former school, on the best of terms after the 2008 season, he appears to have made some serious changes in his life since arriving in Boiler country.
"I sat down with Robert in the recruiting process and told him if he was going to come to Purdue and be a great quarterback, he'd have to change his ways academically," Hope told reporters. "He said he would, and he has. Everything he said, he's done.
"He's come through. He's done everything that we asked him to do to earn that quarterback spot. Rehab, leadership-wise, work ethic-wise, extra hours put into football and extra hours put into academics.
"He's done a great job fitting in. The team has embraced him. His teammates love him. Exceptional player and exceptional athlete and great teammate."
Now Marve and the Boilermakers just need to win some football games. The good news: after tearing his ACL last year, Marve pronounced himself "100 percent go".
"I'm stronger than I was before I hurt it, I'm faster than I was before I hurt it, and I'm doing all the conditioning with the team, which I wasn't before," said Marve.
"Midway during the spring, I kind of felt like the old me again."
The not-so-good news for Boilermaker faithful: the schedule starts off with a bang as Marve and Purdue visit longtime house-of-horrors Notre Dame Stadium in their first contest of 2010.
Don't tell Marve about his new team's past struggles in South Bend, though.
"September 4 is coming and I feel we're going to be ready," Marve said confidently. "When that first opponent's a rival, and that first opponent's beaten you the last couple years, it's time for Purdue to get the respect back."
Big talk indeed. Any other lofty goals for the newest member of Purdue's famed quarterback "cradle"?
"I want to play in California or Florida this year," Marve said when discussing his postseason aspirations. "I want to play in a BCS bowl before I get out of here.
"People may look from the outside as, 'How's that gonna happen?', but then you look back at the Brees era and they said the same thing then."
The comparisons simply won't stop.
And for Purdue fans dreaming of a return to the glory days of Boilermaker football, that's a good thing.
For more college football coverage and analysis, follow Tim on Twitter at @TimCary .
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