Aidan Bouman can't remember ever wanting to be anything but a quarterback.
As a youngster he followed his father, former NFL quarterback Todd Bouman, around at his various stops, always with a ball in his hands, searching for someone willing to play catch.
"Ever since I was little, I loved the game," Aidan said. "I was always holding a football and I'd play catch with anybody and everybody."
The Buffalo junior is no longer little — he stands 6-5 — and he's living his dream. The younger Bouman is a Division I quarterback prospect putting up impressive passing statistics while playing on a team coached by his father, who is in his fourth season.
"Playing quarterback is all he's wanted to do and all he's talked about, ever since I can remember," Todd said.
Aidan's strong left arm produced more than 2,200 yards for the Bison in 2017, when Aidan was a sophomore. After an offseason of growth and training, he's on pace to obliterate that mark this year. His numbers through two games: 62 completions in 99 attempts for 740 yards and six touchdowns.
"Going back to ninth grade, to last season and then this year, it's been fun to see how he's grown and how much better he's gotten," said Todd, who will lead the host Bison (1-1) against Elk River (2-0) on Friday.
A football obsession
A large part of Aidan's development is father and son's shared obsession with football. It certainly doesn't hurt that Todd played quarterback for six NFL franchises over a 13-year career, mostly as a backup.
Todd Bouman was a three-sport athlete at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton High School in southwestern Minnesota. After playing college football at St. Cloud State, he spent six years with the Vikings and three with New Orleans. He also had stints with Green Bay, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Baltimore before calling it quits in 2010.
With that background and the shared father-son experiences of playing quarterback, conversations always seem to make their way back to football.
"He's always wanting knowledge, regardless of how small it may be," Todd said. "We can be talking about something else and it always turns back to talking about football."
Said Aidan, "We can talk football all day and all night."
Fall weekends are all about the game, whether focusing on the high school team on Fridays, watching college games on Saturdays or enjoying the Vikings on Sundays. Sometimes their football fanaticism becomes so involved they have to scale it back out of respect for Aidan's mother, Courtney, who was a star volleyball player at St. Cloud State, where she and Todd met.
"My mother used to get stressed out because she doesn't like seeing her son get hit, but she's gotten better in the last few years," Aidan said. "We try to cut it back sometimes, for her, but she understands."
As much as they share in common, Aidan and Todd have obvious differences in the way they play quarterback. Todd was a remarkable athlete, exceptionally fast, with a cannon for an arm.
"He was a dual threat before that became a thing," Aidan said. "He ran a 4.5 [40-yard-dash]. I don't have his legs."
Todd feels Aidan has something better: a stronger mental game.
"He's got the physical tools, but where he's really improved is in the mental aspect," Todd said. "He's far, far beyond where I was when I was his age."
Todd's connections with the Vikings have afforded Aidan some unique opportunities. He's frequently found on the sidelines before Vikings games. Randy Moss once talked to him about the specialness of high school football on Friday nights. Former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle is an uncle, having married his mother's sister, Candace.
One of Aidan's most spectacular plays came not on the football field but at a relaxing day around the pool at Randle's home last summer. A video posted on Todd's Twitter account shows Aidan jumping off a diving board, then, while in midair, throwing a basketball toward a hoop roughly 90 feet away.
The ball swishes cleanly.
"My dad shot that," Aidan said with a laugh. "It was on my second try. My dad freaked out."
That illustrates the relationship between the Boumans. Always supportive, never contentious. Aidan considers his father to be his biggest role model and, more important, his best friend.
Todd stresses humility, saying, "I always tell him he's lucky to have great players around him." He marvels at the things his son has done and eagerly anticipates what will come next.
Aidan has committed to Iowa State, which made him their top recruiting target for the class of 2020. That means Dad has a little less than two seasons left to coach his son.
"It's very special. Only a handful of guys get to do it," Todd said. "You want to try and enjoy every single minute."