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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 34 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 35 D avid Blough is not physically imposing. He's not even joking when he says he can throw a hat on, walk across campus and no one would notice him. He's about 6-foot and wears his 205 pounds well, with relatively defined muscles, but he's not ripped. He doesn't exactly pass the prototypi- cal-quarterback look test of 6-foot-4, 230-pound sturdy, solid pocket passer. No one could tell simply by looking that this guy was the Big Ten's leading passer last season. But that's not the kind of recognition Blough really wants anyway. Those who know Blough well don't seem enamored with his physical traits. At least they're rarely what are mentioned when people give their impressions of the soon-to-be 22-year-old from Texas. When Purdue teammates and coaches talk about Blough, their first words usually aren't about his strong right arm — though he does have one, and it served him well in passing for more than 3,300 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. The initial praise usually isn't about his mobility — though he does have a degree of athleticism, and it's served him well with a penchant for escaping the pock- et. The primary compliment usually isn't about his vi- sion — though, with his stature, it has served him well allowing him to work through openings to thread pass- es. Because though Blough may not be physically impos- ing, without question, he still exudes quite a presence. Of positivity, selflessness, proper perspective, un- matched competitive spirit that fuels a desperate drive to truly be the best in everything he puts his passion be- hind, and most telling, of a man intent and born to lead. And those who are exposed to him, who seek to look beyond the everyman appearance and into his heart, those people nearly always leave changed. "He's just good at so many different things in life that football isn't the only thing you get when you get David. He comes with so much more," said D.J. Knox, Blough's roommate. "I think that's the thing that people get caught up in sometimes. Once you meet him as a person, you're like, 'Wow.' Then you see him in pads and you're like, 'Oh yeah, he actually plays football, too.' It's like the best of both worlds with David." The certificate is in a wooden frame and, clearly, is marked as a record of achievement. It's dated May 28, 2003, and signed by four people, making it seem especially official. David Blough's name is in the prime spot, right un- derneath "given to." The "for" part does not declare an award for chucking a football the farthest as a then- first-grader at Kent Elementary in Carrollton, Texas, though. It doesn't give praise for scoring the highest on a test or for designing the most impressive finger painting or for being the most attentive listener. In carefully written black ink, it cites Blough as the recipient of The Jim Phillips Leaders for Life Award. Blough doesn't have many memories from when he was that young, but the day he got that certificate is viv- id: Going to the front of the gym to accept, surrounded by about 100 classmates, knowing he was nominated by his peers. He felt not exactly a sense of accomplishment but, in a way, validation. Even as a 7-year-old, Blough knew the title fit him. The certificate still is hanging in his room back home in Texas. "I think I've been given a gift — I know where it comes from — but I have a gift of leadership," said Blough, a devout Christian. "It's been in everything that I've ever done. Quite frankly, I'd rather have the pressure fall on my shoulders, the responsibility fall on me than on any of my other teammates because I know, one day, I'm founded on something stronger than this when it all fades. So leadership is easily, I think, my strongest trait." Those teachers who made that declaration have been proven right again and again. At every opportunity, some given, most seized, Blough has risen. As a sixth-grader, Blough was selected as a leader for a field trip to Medieval Times, which meant he got to choose his group. As a chaperone for the trip, LuAnn Blough watched her youngest son pick five kids, all of different ethnicities. They were his best friends. "I remember looking back on that like, 'That's who I am,'" David Blough says now, getting choked up think- ing about it. As a sophomore-to-be at Creekview High School, a yet-to-be-named-starter Blough spent the summer taking charge of 7-on-7 practices, running them as if

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