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Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell split from team after brother’s death, status for Big Ten title game unclear

Purdue will be without quarterback Aidan O’Connell as the team prepares for the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan.

O’Connell posted on social media that his brother Sean has died. He did not return to campus after the team defeated Indiana on Saturday.

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Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, #16, runs in front of Indiana’s James Head Jr., second from right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, November 26, 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“My family and I would like to express our gratitude for the love and support we have received over the past few days,” he said in his statement. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of my oldest brother Sean. Not only was Sean one of Purdue football’s biggest fans, but he was a better son, brother, and friend. He brightened up every room he walked into and everything that knew him testified to his contagious joy.”

O’Connell was seen crying into a towel on the bench towards the end of the game against Indiana. The cause of his brother’s death was not disclosed.

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Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, #16, throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Indiana on Saturday November 26, 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm spoke Monday about McConnell’s performance.

“He played his heart out for his teammates and gave a lot for us,” he said. “Obviously he has some things to do this week but we will be there to support him and whenever we get him back to work we look forward to that.”

It’s unclear if O’Connell will return to the field. Brohm said he believes the sixth-grader will play in Saturday’s Big Ten title game against Michigan.

Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell, #16, throws against Northwestern in the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Indiana, Saturday, November 19, 2022.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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“He is a special person. I feel like anyone who knows him knows you don’t get guys like that all the time,” said Purdue tight end Payne Durham. “He doesn’t identify as a football player. He is a man of faith who wants to do things for other people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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