August 6, 2013

Purdue looking at 2015 QB

Jimmy Fitzgerald finished the offseason with one last unofficial visit.

Purdue hosted the junior quarterback from Champaign, Ill., for a day last week. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach John Shoop met with Fitzgerald straight away then dove into the bulk of the visit.

"We watched some of the film of the last school he was at, which was North Carolina," Fitzgerald said. "We broke down some of the offense, some of the tape. We looked at some of the drills they do and looked at some practice film. Then he told me I was the only 2015 quarterback they've talked to yet with the new staff.

"He told me they really like me and they were gonna wait and see in the middle of the season what they're gonna do."

Fitzgerald holds a scholarship offer from Illinois, the hometown school, and the Ivy League equivalent of an offer, from Yale. Other programs expressing interest include Duke, Mississippi State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Northwestern, Stanford and Western Michigan.

Purdue has been expressing interest through Shoop and head coach Darrell Hazell in the weeks leading up to the visit.

Taking a closer look at campus helped the 6-foot-2, 215-pound prospect gain a better feel for the program both on the field and off.

"It's a beautiful campus," Fitzgerald said. "As we were going by the business school we were talking about a five-year MBA program where you can graduate in five years with your undergrad degree and MBA. That was extremely attractive to me."

Over the course of this week Fitzgerald has turned his complete focus to preseason camp. He begins practice next week after going through a weeklong dead period.

Fitzgerald plans to put recruiting on the back burner, other than perhaps some game day visits as they fit the schedule. Illinois, Purdue and Duke could all play host as the season moves forward, Fitzgerald noted.

"I definitely want to keep Centennial football first on the schedule without a doubt," he said. "But if I get the opportunity to go to a game on a Saturday I'll definitely take that up."

Otherwise Fitzgerald plans to focus on another strong academic performance along with production on the football field. Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit recently related some good advice on how to handle the process.

"Grades are definitely first and foremost," Fitzgerald said. "I've got to keep that 4.0 (grade point average). My parents will let me know about that. I just wanna have fun with the process. The offensive coordinator at Illinois, we were talking the other day and he said, 'Just don't get too caught up in it. Have fun with it. You're still a kid.' He told me to have fun with it and take it in."

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