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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 47 called. "I think in those days it was a bit more casual to walk on than it is now. So I gave it a shot and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life." DeVos, who didn't play quarterback until his senior year in high school after playing on the defensive line, learned a lot of life lessons as a walk-on. In 1982, his first season, the team started 0-5 under rookie coach Burtnett. "You learn humility real fast," DeVos said. "You may have thought you did something well in high school or your local environment, but you get to a university like Purdue and you realize everyone here is big and strong and fast. You think, 'What am I doing here?' You learn that you are part of a big organization, and that you are part of something special." Things got better for the Boilermakers and for DeVos. Yes, he was buried on the depth chart behind two of Pur- due's all-time great quarterbacks, Scott Campbell and Jim Everett. But it was still a lot of fun. "My goal was just to meet new people and survive," said DeVos, who has been co-chairman of Amway since 2002. "And my on-the-field expectations were realistic. I knew I wasn't as good as the guys I was watching play. So I just enjoyed being a part of it all." After losing seasons in 1982 and '83, the Boilermakers made a big transformation in 1984. They became the only team in school history to defeat Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State in the same year and made a serious run at the Rose Bowl before settling for a Peach Bowl appear- ance. But the '84 season almost didn't happen for DeVos. He had decided not to return because he was too far down on the depth chart to have a chance. But an injury to No. 3 quarterback Jeff Huber warranted a call back from the coaches because they needed an experienced quarterback to work on the scout squad. "I learned that to turn an organization around you had to have really good people," DeVos said. "And that is exactly what we had on the '84 team. Jim Ever- ett was the highest quality, and (fellow walk-on) Kevin Sumlin and Rod Woodson were not only talented, but they were determined, special people. It took a lot to turn the boat around, but when you think of guys the caliber of Woodson, Everett and Sumlin, you can see why it hap- pened." Looking back, DeVos, who never attempted a pass in a college game, said the skill-set developed from being involved with Purdue football has paid the biggest divi- dends. And he has paid it forward by being part of Pur- due's newly formed National Leadership Circle Executive Committee, which includes Drew Brees, among several others. It is a group that not only shared its personal trea- sure when it helped fund the new $65-million football training facility, but hopes to lead others in financial and leadership support to Purdue. "It's teamwork, being around people from different backgrounds, different skills, different contributions, but you learn it is all important," DeVos said of his football experience. It is also relevant to his work with the fledging Leader- ship Circle. "It takes everyone," he said. "So in our business, what- ever role it is, it is important because it impacts our work somehow. It may not always get the most attention, but every job around this place is critical. Even though you are having a bad season, you still have to believe in the future and work toward it. "That is what I learned from being around the Purdue football program. And I am grateful for the opportunity to have the chance. I am so much better a person for it." j The Triple XXX Family Restaurants and Route 66 Diner Salute Purdue's Great Icons, like Duane Purvis Indiana's Oldest Drive-In On the Hill, But on the Level Since 1929

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