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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

OLSM's Justin Siller reinstated to Purdue football team

Somewhere, a handful of Wolverine defenders just shuddered.

A full year after he was dismissed from Purdue University for violation of the school's academic policy (and a year and a half after his stunning debut at QB versus U-M), Orchard Lake St. Mary's grad Justin Siller has been reinstated to the program.

"We are thrilled that Justin is back in our football family," said Purdue coach Danny Hope in a release. "We said when he was dismissed from school that he would always be welcomed back. It is a credit to Justin that he did what he had to do to make himself eligible for reinstatement, and I am confident he learned from his mistake. He handled the entire situation with class and demonstrated a tremendous amount of maturity while he was away from Purdue. We are a better football team today because of Justin's character as well as his playing ability."

Siller's collegiate debut at quarterback came Nov. 1, 2008, against Michigan, when the 6-foot-4, 220-pound scrambler — who'd started that season on the depth chart at running back — torched the Wolverine defense for 266 yards passing, 77 more rushing, and four total touchdowns in Purdue's 48-42 win. Siller would make three starts at QB that season, and went into the next spring slightly ahead of eventual starter Joey Elliott. That was before his dismissal from the school last April for his transgression, which has been termed "academic dishonesty" in some quarters, but never fully explained by Purdue.

"It's a disappointing conclusion and, as a football team, we feel for Justin and his family," Hope said at the time. "Justin made a mistake — a bad decision — and deserved to be punished. Our hope was that he would not be punished to the extent he has been. Now it is our responsibility to accept the decision and move forward. Justin is a fine young man, and we wish him nothing but the best."

Siller took classes at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, and earned his second chance.

"It feels great to be back," said Siller, who will have to change uniform numbers, and possibly positions. "My goal all along was to come back. Even though I was away from the team, I always felt as though I was still part of the program. It was tough sitting out last season, but I learned a valuable lesson. I am proud of the way my teammates overcame some tough early losses last season and won some big games. I am so excited to get back on the field and learn the offense."

With the graduation of Elliott — who landed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent — Siller could enter the QB derby with Miami (Fla.) transfer Robert Marve, last year's backup in Caleb Tarbush, and freshmen Rob Henry and Najee Tyler. Siller could also move back to running back or wide receiver.

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