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Osipoff: After demotion as QB, Rob Henry embraces new role

Purdue v Wisconsin

Purdue v Wisconsin

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Updated: November 11, 2013 12:33PM



In turn, Darrell Hazell spoke with each of the quarterbacks to inform them about the decision to replace Rob Henry with Danny Etling.

Henry’s response?

Allow him to change positions — wide receiver, safety, some sort of special teams role. Whatever he could do to help the team win, to help it play better.

And safety it was, a relatively thin position for Purdue.

“He goes, ‘I’m all in,’” Hazell said of last Tuesday’s conversation with Henry, one of the Boilermakers’ three captains. “He was great about it. That’s what you need on this football team, is more and more unselfish people to help us win football games.

“When you have a bunch of those types of guys, you’re going to be very successful. He’ll be successful in life because of that unselfish attitude that he has. That’s why you love Rob Henry.”

Now, make no mistake. Henry wasn’t thrilled his time at quarterback had come to end. After getting thrust into the starting job as a redshirt freshman, the fifth-year senior had waited almost three years to climb back into that chair.

But Henry has handled the situation with character and class. No one would have expected anything else.

“We weren’t scoring points as an offense, and we weren’t winning games,” Henry said. “I can take responsibility for that. Obviously, it’s not easy, it’s tough to be moved. But I respect the decision. I have to — he’s the head coach, and he made the choice. So we’ll roll with it.”

So Henry, now wearing uniform No. 22 instead of No. 15, has been practicing in the secondary.

He played safety in high school — as a freshman and sophomore, not as a junior or senior. Some seven years later, at an altogether entirely different level, he has been attempting to absorb as much as possible as quickly as possible. He has been picking the brain of Landon Feichter, who has been sidelined with a broken leg, as well as Taylor Richards, who missed practices last week because of a concussion.

“I’m just trying to learn, trying to continue to get my reads down, and be able to react a little bit better,” Henry said. “It’s been a definite change, but I’m having fun back there. … It’s been a good transition.

“I’m really enjoying it, I really am.”

The speedy and athletic 6-foot-2, 205-pound Henry has held his own in the early stages. He even had an interception against the scout team on Monday — which is still a long way away from Saturday against Nebraska at Ross-Ade Stadium.

It seems unlikely Henry (who isn’t listed on the two-deep, which obviously doesn’t preclude him from playing) will see the field against the Cornhuskers. But anything is possible. And he could work his way into the mix in subsequent weeks.

“He certainly doesn’t look out of place,” Hazell said. “You watch him run around, and obviously he’s a young player back there who has not done it a whole lot. You would think the guy would be out of position a lot of times, but I have not seen that. We asked him to do some tackling — that’s going to be the big question, how well he can tackle. But he runs around pretty good. … We look for him to continue to get better each and every day.”



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