Terre Haute (Ind.) South quarterback Danny Etling was ready to make his college decision on Tuesday, but first the 6-foot-3, 200-pound passer needed to take a walk.
So Etling grabbed his cell phone and headed out the door. As he walked he also dialed up anyone he could think of whose counsel he had previously sought. He called his high school coaches. He called one of his former coaches who now lives in Florida. He called former college and NFL head coach Cam Cameron, whom Etling has worked with in the past.
Etling wanted some final feedback from those he trusted to confirm what he was feeling - that he wanted to continue his football career in his home state and commit to the Purdue Boilermakers. The response was overwhelmingly supportive, so before his walk was finished Etling made one final phone call to West Lafayette.
"At the very end I called Coach [Gary] Nord and told him the news," Etling said. "He was very excited about it and had me call Coach [Danny] Hope. Coach Hope was excited about it too and said I almost gave him a heart attack with how long I took."
Although Etling's decision comes almost ten months before he can sign his national letter of intent, even he did not expect to take it out as long as he did once the Boilermakers offered him a scholarship this winter. It was a late March offer from another Big Ten program that caused him to take a step back and think his recruitment through a little deeper.
"Iowa ended up offering me and that really stalemated it all," Etling said. "Coach [Kirk] Ferentz is one of the best human beings I have ever met, and trying tell a guy like that 'no' is pretty tough. That was one of the reasons why I waited a little longer."
After weighing both offers over the last three weeks, Etling convened with family members to consider his options. One of those family members is his cousin, Joe Holland, who just concluded a successful career with the Boilermakers this past fall.
"On Easter we really sat down and talked about it," Etling said. "He said, 'it's your decision, I'm not going to pressure you.' I asked him a lot of questions and he answered them very well. I saw how he turned out from Purdue and I thought that's how I want to be when I'm his age."
Purdue has a storied history with the quarterback position; a history Etling knows intimately well. Over the last few seasons, however, injuries and inconsistent play have besieged the position at Purdue. Etling hopes someday he can take the reigns and resurrect the "Cradle of quarterbacks", but he knows his commitment alone does not guarantee that outcome.
"I would love to come in there and add stability to that position," he said. "But honestly, this is just the start and I have a lot of work to get done. I have to beat out a lot of great quarterbacks that are going to go there if I want to play. I would love to be the next great quarterback to come out of Purdue, but it's going to take a lot of hard work and I'm ready for that."
Reflecting on the decision he made just hours earlier, Etling called the end of his recruitment "bittersweet." The process was not always easy, but an early decision means Etling will miss out on all the excitement and attention that comes with being a Division I quarterback target.
Having his decision made is also a relief for the three-star prospect, however, because he has wrestled over his options for several weeks. At the end of the night, Etling felt confident in the timing of the decision.
"I love Purdue and I made my choice," Etling said. "This is the place I want to go."