June 29, 2012

Michael O'Connor impressing on the summer circuit

Like every position, young quarterbacks take time to develop before they become top prospects. A rising high school sophomore who has already shown enough skill development to earn multiple scholarship offers, then, is a rare prospect indeed.

Ottawa (Ont.) Ashbury college 2015 quarterback Michael O'Connor - who will move to Chattanooga, Tenn. to play at The Baylor School this fall - is one such player. The 6-5, 205-pounder has already picked up scholarship offers from Buffalo, Mississippi State, Michigan State, and Toledo, but has a lot of developing to do. Not only does he only have one season of high school football under his belt, he's never had a dedicated quarterbacks coach.

"The priority was academics, and [at The Baylor School], they have very strong academics. In that aspect, it was a good move. They also have football. It's more serious, and it's really hard to get seen up in Canada, especially with the number of games. We only play six games, a three-month schedule and it's not that serious.

"I think a move to the states will really benefit me. I've never had a quarterback coach ever, so I think I have a lot more potential, and I think by moving to the states, I'll be able to reach that potential."

Moving south of the border is just another step in O'Connor's desire to blossom into the player he knows he's capable of becoming. He has been a regular on the 7-on-7 circuit with his Gridiron Academy team, and has made appearances at several summer camps.

The Sound Mind, Sound Body camp June 13-14 was his first opportunity to participate as an individual, rather than a member of his team. Although that required some adjusting - on both his part and that of his receivers - O'Connor was able to learn from the experience.

"I think 7-on-7 it's more team-involved," he explained. "You've got your teammates there, so you're all on the same page. Here, it's more individual, and you get to show off more of your individual skills. You get to show off what you have, as opposed to helping the team. This is where you show off as an individual."

"It's tough, because sometimes the receivers run the wrong routes and it makes both of you guys look bad. Most of the time, once you get going a little bit and we get on the same page, it's get rolling and starts to go pretty well. It's just a competitive spirit and I think it brings out the best of both of our games, and that's where you want to be as a player. You want to be where it's the most competitive, because that's when you can shine as a player. "

Stops at Michigan State and Michigan summer camps helped him earn the attention of those coaching staffs - and even an offer from the Spartans. Before his sophomore year gets rolling, O'Connor hopes to see a few more schools in person, and learn the game from their coaching staffs.

"Mississippi State, they invited me to their camp too," he said. "Also Vanderbilt, they want me to go to their camp as well. I think before I move down to Tennessee, I'll hit the Mississippi State and the Vanderbilt camps."

O'Connor is still more than two and a half years away from putting his name on a letter of intent - though he'd like to make an early college commitment so as to not distract from his academics - but by the time he reaches his senior year, it's likely he'll be one of the top quarterbacks in North America.

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