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Walk-ons pave way for Purdue to capture Big Ten West title

Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones (15) breaks the tackle of Northwestern defensive back Jeremiah Lewis (9) on his way to a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Tight end Payne Durham jokes that he made it to Purdue the easy way. He accepted a scholarship. But Durham also understands the heartbeat of the Big Ten West Division champs comes from those who made it the hard way.

Starting quarterback Aidan O’Connell and leading rusher Devin Mockobee both arrived on campus as walk-ons who had to prove they belong. And Purdue’s top receiver Charlie Jones also started his Big Ten career, at Iowa, as a walk-on.

Together, they have propelled the Boilermakers into their first conference championship game Saturday against No. 2 Michigan.