Coming Into the 2022 Season
When Michael Alaimo briefly entered the transfer portal in February, I was disappointed, but not surprised. Losing Alaimo was the cost of bringing back Aidan O’Connell. I understood Alaimo’s frustration. The former 4* quarterback out of Montvale, New Jersey has patiently waited on the bench for two seasons in order to get his shot as a starter, only to have that door slammed in his face by O’Connell returning for his free Covid year. At the same time, I’ll take the known of O’Connell over the potential of Alaimo at this point in the Brohm era. It’s time for the Boilermakers to put out consecutive 8-9 (or better...dare I dream?) win seasons, and Aidan, in theory, gives Brohm the best chance to accomplish that goal.
I was, however, relieved when Michael exited the portal a few days later and decided to wait one more year for his shot a winning the Purdue starting job.
As a member of the 2020 recruiting class, it’s hard to believe, but he still has four years of eligibility remaining coming into the 2022 season. The math works out, but 2020 seems like it was a decade ago. Alaimo still has all the physical tools that made him one of the top quarterbacks in the country in 2020 class, and he has two seasons of practice in the Brohm system under his belt. He’ll have 3 years (again, in theory) of development under his belt, and he’ll still (in theory) have 3 years of eligibility remaining when he battles fellow 4* recruit Brady Allen (and possibly Rickie Collins?) for the starting job in 2023. That’s should give him a leg up, and potentially give Purdue another multi-season starter at quarterback.
As a Recruit
Michael Alaimo looked like a 5* recruit. Physically, he has everything you want in a quarterback. He’s every bit of 6’4” and has already filled out to 225 pounds. He is an above average athlete for the quarterback position. No one is going to confuse him with a dual threat quarterback, but he’s mobile enough to threaten the edge on a roll out or scramble and big enough to run quarterback power between the tackles when the need arises. He’s got everything you want, in terms of physical ability, in a Power 5 starter.
Production was the reason Alaimo was a fringe 4* (3* according to Rivals) and not a top 100 player. He looks like an All-American, but didn’t put up All-American numbers. He played in a run dominant offense and only cracked 200 yards once in two years as a high school starter. Purdue quarterbacks hit the 200 yard mark mid 2nd quarter if things are going well.
As a senior he threw for 1252 yards, and 9 touchdowns, but shared the backfield with 4* Notre Dame running back recruit Audric Estime. Estime carried the ball 173 times in the 19-20 season and Alaimo attempted 165 passes. That’s not the normal work load you expect from a 4* quarterback. To put it into perspective, fellow Boilermaker Brady Allen attempted 383 passes as a senior at Gibson Southern, but again, he wasn’t sharing the backfield with a back like Estime. Alaimo has been waiting a long time to be “the man” in an offense. If things work out, he’ll need to wait one more season.
I’m going back to his junior year of high school because this is the potential that earned him 4* stars (plus he didn’t collate his senior highlights).
It’s easy to see what talent evaluators like about Alaimo. He has a cannon for an arm and can deliver the ball from the pocket or on the move. He could tighten up his release some, but I’m sure that’s something that the brothers Brohm have worked on extensively over the last 2 years. Physically, he has the best skill set of any quarterback we’ve seen under Jeff Brohm, and it’s not particularly close.
Even though he’s not competing for the starting job in 2022, this is a crucial fall camp for Alaimo. Coach Brohm was effusive in his praise coming out of spring ball, and that was nice to hear, but consistency is the key. He needs to keep it up in fall camp and clearly establish himself as the primary, long term backup for the Boilermakers. As I mentioned in my Austin Burton review, if O’Connell avoids the Purdue injury curse, Burton should play more in 2022 because he brings a totally different style to the offense, and can be incorporated into some gadget packages. If something that I refuse to put on the internet happens, and Purdue is forced to go to a long term backup option, it needs to be Alaimo.
In order to be the long term back up quarterback, he must continue to develop his understanding of the Purdue offense. Physically, there are no limits to his potential, it all comes down to his ability to process what he sees on the field and deliver the ball accurately, on-time, and to the correct receiver (seems simple enough for someone typing on a computer). He’s been in the system for two years, and he needs to lay down his marker now, because Brady Allen will be gunning for the job in 2023. Any playing time he can garner in 2022 (preferably in the 4th quarter of Purdue blowout wins) will be beneficial for his attempt to win the starting job in 2023. He needs live reps, he needs film to study, and the coaching staff needs to get him in the game when the opportunity presents. That might cut into Aidan’s stats, and cost him the Heisman, but it’s the price I’m willing to pay for long term quarterback continuity.
Alaimo oozes potential, but it doesn’t matter how you look in shorts, or how hard or far you can throw the ball, if you’re not throwing it to the right spot. He has to prove that he’s capable of consistently making the right reads and deliver an accurate ball, potentially 50 times a game, if he’s going to be the long term solution for Purdue at quarterback. He’s never been asked to do that before, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable.
I’m glad we get a chance to see if he can put it all together, but hopefully not until 2023.