Las Vegas raiders

RAIDERS: Aidan O’Connell has entered transfer portal today

RAIDERS: Aidan O’Connell has entered transfer portal today….


Raiders QB Aidan O’Connell in familiar territory as he steps into starting role


HENDERSON, Nev. — Jeff Brohm didn’t expect much from Aidan O’Connell. The then-Purdue head coach thought the freshman walk-on quarterback was an OK player who was a good kid with a great attitude and smile, but that was about it. O’Connell was a no-star recruit coming out of Stevenson High School in Long Grove, Ill., in 2017, had zero Division I offers and wasn’t an impressive athlete.



“He was at the bottom of the depth chart,” Brohm, now Louisville’s head coach, said last month. “I’m not going to lie: The first year, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you he could do this. I didn’t see it.”



O’Connell didn’t play a single snap his first two years at Purdue. Undeterred, he kept working with the hope an opportunity would arrive. The coaching staff took note of his persistence and awarded him with a scholarship entering his redshirt sophomore season in 2019.



After injuries took down the three quarterbacks that remained ahead of him, O’Connell made his first career start against Northwestern in the 10th game of the season. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 271 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and helped Purdue secure the win. More than that, he proved he belonged.



O’Connell’s rise from there wasn’t linear — he didn’t become the full-time starter until halfway through the 2021 season — but his resolve never waned. He made 26 starts and finished as Purdue’s all-time leader in completion percentage, fourth in completions, sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes. Those who saw his resiliency on display had the utmost confidence it would translate to success at the next level.




“I just think his mental aptitude, his natural leadership skills, his genuine qualities of a great person, you tie all that together and, I mean, that’s the type of quarterback you want,” Brohm said. “So, whether he’s a full-time starter or whether you want him to be a backup, this guy, you can count on to come in and know the plan and study it, and it’ll never change. I would want this guy on my roster because I know I can count on him to do whatever we ask.”



The Las Vegas Raiders are asking O’Connell to do much more than anticipated just nine games into his NFL career. They drafted him in the fourth round in April to be a backup, but after owner Mark Davis fired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler on Tuesday, interim head coach Antonio Pierce and interim general manager Champ Kelly have decided to bench Jimmy Garoppolo and start O’Connell against the New York Giants on Sunday and beyond. According to league sources, multiple assistant coaches still on staff genuinely believe he’s the best quarterback on the roster.

“We just feel like he gives us the best chance,” Pierce said Wednesday.





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