We are only 52 days away from the start of the college football season. Today we are looking at one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the entire country. I actually doubt many fans have taken the time to watch this quarterback. Aidan O’Connell is the starting quarterback for the Purdue Boilermakers and quietly had one of the best seasons in college football. O’Connell will be in his sixth season of eligibility this fall and will be starting his second full season as the starting quarterback for the Boilermakers.
O’Connell played in six games in 2019 and three games in 2020 before becoming the primary starting quarterback in 2021. His patience paid off as he had an excellent season. O’Connell finished the 2021 season with 3,712 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. O’Connell was third in the Big Ten in passing yards and 11th in the country. His adjusted QB rating was 85.7 which ranked him fifth in the entire country. Only C.J. Stroud, Caleb Williams, Stetson Bennett and Bryce Young finished ahead of him.
The former walk-on quarterback will have a chance to hear his named called in the next NFL draft. O’Connell is a tough player with an accurate arm. O’Connell’s accuracy is the main reason he will have a shot to play in the NFL. He completed over 71% of his passes in 2021. He does not have arm strength to blow any scouts away but he can still complete the deep ball. O’Connell is not considered to be a mobile quarterback but he can move around the pocket when the defense brings pressure. He is a strong quarterback who does not go down at first contact. NFL teams needing quarterback depth should be looking at O’Connell in next year’s draft.
A new number one receiver for O’Connell is at the top of Purdue’s to-do list. David Bell is now in the NFL after a stellar career as a Boilermaker. O’Connell has a few choices for this fall. Former Iowa receiver Tyrone Tracy is one of the top candidates. Tracy had a disappointing last two seasons after what appeared to be a breakout sophomore season. He had 589 receiving yards in 2019 but only 260 yards over the past two seasons combined. Broc Thompson finished last season strong with seven catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl. Thompson’s season high for receiving yards last season prior to the bowl game was only 30 yards. TJ Sheffield, Mershawn Rice, Charlie Jones and Deion Burks will likely see playing time as well.
Purdue opens the season hosting Penn State giving O’Connell a chance to shine in the spotlight. The Boilermakers open the season on a Thursday night on national television. Pulling off an upset over Penn State could vault O’Connell into the spotlight and possibly put his name on Heisman watch lists. He is one of the more talented quarterbacks in the Big Ten playing in a quarterback friendly system. Purdue won nine games last season with O’Connell at the helm for the majority of the year. Will Purdue be able to contend for the Big Ten West with him at the helm again?