WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Purdue football players hear the blaring sound of an air horn during fall camp, they know it's time to move from one segment of practice to the next. But for quarterbacks Aidan O'Connell and Austin Burton, it's also a green light for a foot race down the field toward their next station.
Burton is going to win in a competition of speed more often than not, yet O'Connell will never back down from a challenge. Whether it be sprints or a contest of accuracy with the football, the two have built a strong and healthy rivalry.
Their competitive nature not only keeps practices more interesting but also helps to bring out the best in one another.
"We push each other every day. We're very competitive towards each other," Burton said of his daily interactions with O'Connell. "You'll see us sprinting down the field just because we always compete with everything we do. But at the same time, we're rooting for each other."
This year, the Boilermakers aren't pitting their quarterbacks in a competition for the starting job. O'Connell, through his experience and a strong finish during the 2021 season, is the undisputed leader for coach Jeff Brohm and his offense.
Burton, a fifth year senior who is entering his third season with the Boilermakers after transferring in 2019 from UCLA, will likely serve as the backup for O'Connell, with redshirt freshman Michael Alaimo and true freshman Brady Allen next in line.
The expectations for the quarterback room this fall are clear, and Burton is doing all he can to uphold them while making himself and O'Connell better as a result — even if he has to backpedal to give the starting signal-caller a chance to notch some victories in their daily races.
"I think our goal every day is just to put up a strong performance. You know, I think (Wednesday) we had some mishaps," Burton said. "For the most part, we want to be extremely accurate, a good leader, bring a lot of energy to the team and the offense, and just kind of be in control. Part of being a quarterback is just being in control of the offense and being competent out there."
Even in the role of a backup, there's still plenty that Burton can offer for the Purdue offense this upcoming season. Last year, he appeared in seven games in specific packages and as a relief passer.
The Boilermakers have finished at the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing yards per game in each of the last three seasons, but Burton provides an element of athleticism from the quarterback position that is often missing with O'Connell under center.
During his college career, Burton has rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 38 attempts.
It's unclear if Burton's role as a rusher will expand in 2022, but he expressed that it's the least of his concerns as Purdue looks to put together a strong start to its fall training camp.
"We'll find out, just trying to get ready for camp," Burton said. "Be the best teammate, just get ready for this season right now. It's early in fall camp, so we're just trying to get some good practices in."
Stories Related to Purdue Football
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- Purdue football announces 2022 fall camp schedule: Purdue football opens fall camp on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and will have 18 practices before its season opener against Penn State. Here's the full schedule breakdown for practices open to the media and public. CLICK HERE
- Jeff Brohm Recaps Day 1 of Purdue Fall Camp: Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm addressed the media following the team's first day of fall training camp. The Boilermakers open their season on Sept. 1 against Penn State at Ross-Ade Stadium. CLICK HERE
- 2023 four-star QB decommits from Purdue football: Rickie Collins, a 2023 four-star quarterback out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, announced his decision to decommit from the Purdue football program. CLICK HERE
Big Ten Daily
- Aug. 5: Ohio State kicker Jake Seibert is playing cornerback during the team's fall camp. Also, five-star forward Liam McNeeley will visit Indiana basketball and Michigan is among the top three for four-star cornerback recruit Jordan Matthews. CLICK HERE