clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Purdue Football: 2022 Roster - Quarterback

Aidan O’Connell returning would answer several questions for Purdue.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Purdue at Northwestern Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I waited to start this series of articles because the other teams I cover (Clemson and K-State) are losing players to the portal, probably as I type. I want to get these done between now and the bowl game, mainly because people are still paying attention to Purdue football. I figure y’all will have some other sport to focus on once football season is all the way over. I understand the basketball team has some real potential this season.

Quarterback is the obvious place to start for any Purdue team. When Jeff Brohm has a settled quarterback situation, wins pile up. Problem is, the quarterback situation at Purdue usually isn’t settled until midway through October. Competition is great, but it sure would be nice to have this thing done and dusted before the leaves start to change color in 2022.

This is what Purdue’s quarterback situation looks like at the moment (subject to transfer portal change)

Aidan O’Connell

Class: Sr (2017 Recruiting Class...yes, I know he was a walk-on)

Eligibility Remaining: 1 season to play 1

Aidan O’Connell 2021 Stats

COMP ATT COMP % YDS AVG PER COMP TD INT SACK RTG
COMP ATT COMP % YDS AVG PER COMP TD INT SACK RTG
263 363 72.7 2,900 8 19 8 15 152.8

If O’Connell Returns

O’Connell settles the quarterback situation question at Purdue before January 1 if he decides to utilize his “Covid year” of eligibility. The Boilermakers having a clear cut QB1 heading into spring camp would allow Jeff Brohm the opportunity to perfect his offense instead of spending time installing it. Jack Plummer jumped into the portal, leaving O’Connell as the clear cut starter (although he was going to be the clear cut starter anyway). If he returns, the Boilermaker offense could hit the ground running in 2021, instead of finding their way later in the season. Even with the departure of David Bell, Purdue could have their most dynamic offense in the Brohm era with an experienced and live armed quarterback like O’Connell pulling the strings in 2022.

If O’Connell Leaves For The NFL

I think he’ll return, but if a guy like O’Connell was looking to throw his name into the NFL draft, this would be the year. The quarterback position is as thin as the hair on top of my head in this draft and O’Connell’s arm paired with his gunslinger mentality could be intriguing, probably not in the first round, but after that, who knows. He’s still as mobile as my blind 16 year old arthritic lab with neuro degeneration in his back legs (please Jeff, never run that QB sneak you tried against IU again), and that will be held against him, but Mac Jones is built (and runs) like an insurance agent and he seems to be doing well in the NFL.

Trust me, I’m just as shocked writing about O’Connell’s NFL potential as you are reading about it, but he put on a show in the second half of the season and he can make all the NFL throws. Stranger things have happened folks, remember, the Giants made Daniel Jones a first round pick after he threw for 2674 yards with a 60% completion percentage as a senior at Duke.

If he leaves, Purdue is in decent shape with the guys I’m going to cover next or the potential to add someone from the portal, but the quarterback position will once again be wide open heading into the spring and the offense will probably take a step back in 2022. Brohm doesn’t have a good track record of picking the best quarterback for his offense coming out of camp. It would be nice to take that decision out of his hands this season.

If he leaves Purdue has four other options (as of now).

Austin Burton

Class: Sr (2017 Recruiting Class)

Eligibility: 1 Season to play 1 (if he wants it)

Stats

I’ll skip the fancy chart. Burton attempted 7 passes, and completed 5 of them for 44 yards. He ran for 38 yards on 13 carries.

If O’Connell Stays

Burton has a decision to make. He can chose to stick around and give Purdue something different at the back up quarterback position. He could jump into the portal, move down a level (either G5 of FCS) and start as a super senior, or he could decide to be a part of the 99% of student athletes that go pro in something other than their sport. O’Connell staying isn’t the worst thing in the world for Burton, because he can still be the change up. In fact, Aidan returning would give Brohm a chance to add onto the offense instead of installing an offense in the spring. In theory, that means he would be able to spend more time developing the Austin Burton package. I know everyone wants 1 quarterback, but if you come into a season with a plan to use 2 quarterbacks, and implement that plan, it’s usually a good thing.

If O’Connell Leaves

The starting job is wide open. I’m not sure I like Burton’s shot at winning the job though. I scratched my head when he transferred into the program because his skill set doesn’t mesh with what Brohm usually does on offense. Austin came from an offense that featured the RPO, and that’s not something the Boilermakers do all that often. In order for the RPO to work, the run part of the equation has to be featured, and that’s not what the brothers Brohm have featuring during their tenure at Purdue.

Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, I still think he could be an important piece in the 2022 team. His running ability could still be utilized if Purdue brings in a transfer, or rolls with one of the young quarterbacks on the roster. He’s a nice change up for the Purdue system, and the change up is tough to hit.

Michael Alaimo

Class: Jr (2020 recruiting class)

Eligibility: 4 seasons to play 4 (2020 Covid, 2021 RS)

Stats: None

If O’Connell Stays

If Aidan stays, Alaimo has a decision to make. I have no inside information, but you’ve got to think the portal would look tempting to a guy who will be heading into the 3rd year in a program, with 4 years of eligibility remaining, and no path to the starting job. Again, I don’t know his life, and he could be content to fight it out for the backup job in 2022 and position himself to start in the Brohm offense for 3 season (potentially). That would be best for Purdue as a program, and probably best for Alaimo as a player (depending on what other options are available).

If O’Connell Leaves

This should be Alaimo’s job to win. He’s the type of tall, big armed quarterback that has thrived in the Brohm system. The 6’4”, 225 former consensus 4* quarterback needed time to adjust to the jump from New Jersey high school football, to Big12 football. He’s had 2 years of practice to get it figured out. If he wins the job, I would expect an up and down season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets pulled in a few games. That seems to be the Brohm way when it comes to quarterbacks. Purdue loses nothing in their down field passing game, but loses a ton of experience and decision making. It took O’Connell a long while to figure out when to attack down the field and when to dump the ball off in the Brohm system, but once he figured it out, he took off. Alaimo, I suspect, would need to go through the same maturation process on the field.

Brady Allen

Class: Fr (2022 recruiting class)

Eligibility: 5 seasons to play 4

Stats: None

If O’Connell Stays

The 6’5”, 210 pound 4* freshman redshirts, buries himself in the playbook, and prepares for the wide open 2022 QB competition.

If O’Connell Leaves

Odds are, he still redshirts with Alaimo and Burton still on the roster (I assume both would stay of Aidan leaves). That could change if the loser of the Alaimo vs Burton QB competition decides to leave. There is also an outside shot the Allen wins the starting job. It would be tough to beat out the more experienced Burton and Alaimo, but it’s not like either has much on field quarterback experience in the Purdue offense. They would be further along in the playbook, but with O’Connell and Plummer eating up a large share of practice snaps, you wonder just how much “development” has gone on with either, in terms of playbook installation. Sure, in theory, they’ll know the playbook, but knowing the playbook and executing the playbook are two different beasts. If he comes in for spring practice and asserts himself as the most talented quarterback on the roster, there is nothing keeping him from winning the job in fall camp.

Transfer Portal

If O’Connell Stays

The portal door remains closed.

If O’Connell Leaves

Purdue suddenly becomes one of the premier transfer destinations in America. If you’re a quarterback, and you want a chance to throw it 40+ times a game, Jeff Brohm is your huckleberry.

I won’t even begin to throw names out until it becomes necessary (and I’m 90% sure it won’t) but keep this idea in the back of your brain. A one year rental would be interesting. It would probably clear out 1, if not both, returning quarterbacks, which would be a gamble, but Brohm has to get the quarterback position right, and if that means hurting some feelings, feelings will have to be hurt.

Overall

I spent a good bit of time thinking about what happens if O’Connell leaves, and that’s probably time wasted. I think he’ll be back to captain the Boilermakers next year. On the off chance that he leaves for the NFL (still feels super weird to type that), Purdue and Jeff Brohm have a myriad of options, and the blog’o’sphere will have plenty to talk about over the next 9 months.