The 2011 football season started a little differently than years previous for Hoover (OH) quarterback and Purdue commit Austin Appleby. After standing out at the Penn State regional Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in the spring, Appleby was invited over the summer to compete in the camp's finals and was eventually named to the Elite 11, a feat that was showcased on national television.
"It was really cool. My facebook and twitter were blowing up with my buddies and people I didn't know congratulating me. The coolest thing with this whole thing, it's the little kids. We have this tunnel outside of our locker room and this little fenced in area, and the little kids from all ages just crowd around this tunnel and scream my name and I give them high fives. I remember how it was for me when I was little, looking up to those older guys cause they were my pros, and being able to be that guy they look up, it's just awesome."
Coming off of his summer high, Appleby had quite a challenge facing him at Hoover. The combination of quarterbacking an extremely young team and competing in Ohio's most difficult conference forced Appleby to put his leadership skills to use. "We're outmatched and outmanned every game and blame gets put on the starting quarterback. I get a lot of heat for it, but it's getting me better for next year. I'm learning how to take adversity, so that's the positive I've pulled out of it."
Appleby committed to the Boilermakers in June and though his focus has been on the season, his future in West Lafayette is always on his mind. Appleby took his official visit during the Notre Dame game and was happy with the impression it left on him. "It was so cool. It was my fourth time being there and first time for a game. It was an awesome atmosphere-they sold it out-and just to get to meet all the coaches and hang out with Rob Henry after the game…it's the perfect place for me."
Though the Boilermakers suffered a loss to the Irish that weekend, Appleby wasn't deterred. "I'm going to be a Boilermaker; losses don't change my mind. It's the best place for me both academically and athletically. They are up and coming and are a couple guys away from competing for the Big Ten title and I really think that my recruiting class has a chance to make that difference and get us back to the Rose Bowl. A loss is obviously tough, but you stick with them through thick and thin, that's your team."
Appleby also enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with other commits during the visit. "I got along with them right away and I'm really excited to get back down there. We've been facebooking back and forth. We keep picking up new guys and we keep adding them to the list of guys we talk to. I'm really excited to get to work with them next year."
One guy in particular that Appleby has clicked with is 3-star receiver B.J. Knauf from Santa Fe Catholic (FL). "He is just an unbelievable talent, blazing fast. He's going to be a huge receiver for us. He reached out to me and ever since then, we've stayed in contact, talking to all the other guys. He is going to be a big part in my success and hopefully together we can do some big things."
Appleby is also doing his part in recruiting other players, namely defensive back Deon Bush from Columbus HS (FL). "He's an incredible DB and his brother goes to Purdue. He's got it down to us, Alabama, Auburn…if we can get him, he's got a chance to make an impact early, I know that for sure."
Though he is still figuring out details on whether he will be graduating early, Appleby has spoken with Purdue coaches about how they plan to use him, including potentially redshirting him next season. "Well, the situation for me is that the quarterbacks there right now are older on the depth chart. They didn't take a guy last year so I have a chance to get in there and compete pretty early for the job; it's a great situation for me."
In the meantime, Appleby is focusing on training to get bigger, faster, and stronger. "Physically, I know I'm not quite there yet, but I don't think anybody is when they are an incoming freshman and I know that the strength coaches at Purdue will take care of that. I just want to give myself a good, strong foundation coming in. I'm also making sure I am as mechanically solid as I can possibly be. The whole off-season I'm going to make sure that I am ready going into my freshman year and will be able to try and compete as soon as I can."