UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — No ACL has been no problem for Robert Marve.
The Purdue quarterback has played the past eight games without the ligament supporting his left knee. He tore it in the Boilermakers' second game of the season, returned less than a month later and ultimately led his team to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
“It's definitely torn,” he insisted, laughing Saturday after practice. “But it seems to be working for me.”
It's just the latest twist in Marve's crazy journey.
He was a high school hotshot who broke a bunch of Tim Tebow's high school state records in Florida. He signed with Miami, where he started as a redshirt freshman.
But that season was a rocky one. He was suspended for the opener after an arrest, then found himself sharing the quarterback duties with Jacory Harris and finally was suspended another game for academic issue.
Marve decided to leave Miami shortly after the season.
Oklahoma State was among the schools that he considered.
He ultimately transferred to Purdue, but shortly after arriving, he tore the ACL in his left knee. He rehabbed and started for the Boilers the next season, but four games into the year, he tore the same ACL.
While he was rehabbing, scandal erupted at Miami. Booster Nevin Shapiro gave improper benefits to several football players, and Marve was one of them. He admitted as much to the NCAA in striking a deal that would make him eligible to play last season.
After spending last year primarily as the backup quarterback, he decided to appeal for a sixth year of eligibility.
Then, to have that extra year granted, be named the starter and tear his knee for a third time?
“It was very frustrating at the time, mentally taxing,” he said. “I thought I played great the first game, I was playing great against Notre Dame, and then when the knee went ... I thought I was done for the year.”
Doctors, though, determined that even though the ligament had torn, the rest of the cartilage and ligaments in his knee was stable.
Marve returned three games later, then became instrumental down the stretch. Purdue needed to win its last three games to get bowl eligible, and in those contests, Marve completed 68 percent of his passes, throwing for 787 yards and seven touchdowns.
“That's like the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life,” cornerback Ricardo Allen said of Marve playing through his injury. “If I'm sick, if I'm hurtin' ... all I do is think about him. If he can play without an ACL, I can play with anything.”
Marve is just happy to be ending his college career on the field instead of the sideline.
“It's humbled me,” he said of his career's twists and turns. “I know it sounds crazy, but it's matured me so much to the point where I know that football's a blessing.”