11/20/19 Football Practice Aiden O'Connell, Handing off

Sophomore walk-on quarterback Aidan O’Connell practices a play during practice on Wednesday. O’Connell started the season as a fourth-string quarterback, but has since moved up to the starter position.

Sophomore walk-on Aidan O’Connell started the season fourth on the depth chart at the quarterback position. After the injury bug swept across the Purdue roster, he was thrust into the starting position.

“It’s my job to do what I got to do,” O’Connell said. “Starter or backup, I try to prepare myself like I’m the one (that’s) going to play.”

Since that moment, O’Connell has played better than many expected.

In his very first game, he came off the bench for redshirt freshman Jack Plummer and completed six of seven passes to cap off a game-winning drive against Nebraska. He became the starting quarterback for the Boilers after that game and has led the team ever since.

“I’ve been playing since the second grade, and I didn’t know I was working toward this moment,” O’Connell said. “But that was God’s plan for me.”

O’Connell had a rocky start in his second game, throwing a pick on Purdue’s second drive of the game and handing the ball over again in the third quarter. He redeemed his performance when he finished the day with another game-winning drive ending with a field goal from kicker J.D. Dellinger. He completed 34 of his 50 passes for 271 yards.

Throughout his time as a starter, O’Connell has showcased the ability to stay poised in the pocket, make good reads and deliver the ball.

In his latest game against Wisconsin, he completed 26 out of his 43 passes for 289 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and kept the game competitive. Now, he will be starting in perhaps the biggest game of the year against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Old Oaken Bucket game.

The Hoosiers are having their best season in nearly 12 years. It will be O’Connell’s job to lead the team to victory and keep the bucket in West Lafayette for the third straight season. While the Boilers no longer have a chance at a bowl game, Purdue takes pride in winning trophy games, and this is the biggest of them all.

The Boilermakers are 74-41-6 all-time against the Hoosiers, and Purdue will treat this game like a Super Bowl. O’Connell has played well so far this season and this game could serve as his case to start next season and beyond.

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