WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jack Sullivan's interest in flying comes from his grandfather, who built his own planes and earned a private pilot's license. Outside of football, he was an inspiration for Sullivan's career aspirations.
As the Purdue redshirt senior defensive end prepared for the upcoming 2022 season, his work ethic in the classroom — and in the air — was rewarded with an honor that won't ever be taken away from him.
Sullivan is officially a college graduate from Purdue University.
He earned a degree majoring in professional flight technology and aviation management this August, giving him more opportunity to focus on football this fall. Sullivan will pursue a second degree during his fifth year with the program, but a lighter schedule will prove vital for the veteran defensive lineman.
"It feels really good to just have a lot of stuff off my plate," Sullivan said during the team's fall training. "I can just really hone in on film study and just mobility stuff, getting better here all the time. Last year, it was a grind taking all those classes and still being here doing all this stuff."
Sullivan's experience makes him a leader along a loaded defensive front for the Boilermakers. Despite no longer having star power on the edge after losing an NFL talent in George Karlaftis, the team will deploy several capable players in a steady rotation this season.
Whether it be rushing the passer and collapsing the pocket or stuffing the opposing rushing attack, defensive line coach Mark Hagen and this Purdue team are confident they have the sheer numbers to compete at a high level in the Big Ten's trenches.
"I think it's definitely the most depth we've had since I've been here in my five years," Sullivan said. "That's gonna be a big factor on Saturdays because you can roll guys in. It's just developing that trust now during practice, making sure that coach Hagen trusts everybody."
With 24 games of service under his belt, Sullivan has done more than enough to earn the faith of his teammates and coaches. He's put up 48 career tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks throughout his college career while slowly rising to a starting role with the Boilermakers.
Last season, Sullivan appeared in all 13 games for the Purdue defense while registering 22 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He ended the year with three straight starts and is looking to take his game to greater heights in what will likely be his final season as a college athlete.
And when the curtains close on Sullivan's football aspirations, he'll move forward toward a career flying planes. He already has about 250 hours of flying, and his degree from Purdue reduces the total hours that are required to earn an Airline Transport Pilot certificate.
Once Sullivan clears 1,000 hours logged in the air and passes all the required tests, he'll have the opportunity to fly for an airline. He'll enter a labor market that is currently in need of workers as the country faces an ongoing pilot shortage.
But for now, the main focus is getting through fall training camp in full health and starting the season strong when Purdue opens against Penn State on Sept. 1 inside Ross-Ade Stadium.
"I'm pretty happy to just be focused on football," Sullivan said.
Stories Related to Purdue Football
- Purdue Football 2022 Fall Camp Roster: Purdue football started fall training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and the team updated its roster ahead of the 2022 season. The Boilermakers will have its season opener on Thursday, Sept. 1, inside Ross-Ade Stadium against Penn State. CLICK HERE
- Purdue Football 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
- Purdue Football Receives Votes in 2022 Preseason Coaches Poll: Purdue football received two votes in the 2022 preseason coaches poll. The team is scheduled to open the season against Penn State on Thursday, Sept. 1, inside Ross-Ade Stadium. CLICK HERE
- Austin Burton Continues to Push Aidan O'Connell in Fall Camp: Aidan O'Connell may be the Purdue football team's undisputed starting quarterback, but Austin Burton is continuing to push him ahead of the 2022 season. Whether it's foot races or throwing competitions, the two are looking to bring out the best in each other. CLICK HERE