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Friday, April 26, 2013
5 Questions: ESPN 150 QB O'Connor

By Josh Moyer


Every week, NittanyNation poses five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about PSU and other topics.

This week's subject in ESPN 150 quarterback Michael O'Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), the only uncommitted signal-caller who holds a Penn State offer. He's ranked as the No. 123 overall player the country, and he plans to commit somewhere by June. He'll enroll early.

NittanyNation: So, what schools are planning to see you during this evaluation period? And any new schools you're especially hoping for an offer from?

Michael O'Connor: I know Penn State is coming, and most of the schools that have already offered me. And also, Notre Dame's coming, Arkansas' coming, UCLA is coming, USC is coming, and that's all the ones I know. But my coach said there's going to be some more. But those other schools, I don't know if they're just coming to see me because we have some other good players.

And I wouldn't say so. Being from Canada, I haven't really had a favorite team growing up so I'm still kind of new to everything. I don't think I have one school that if someone would offer, I'd commit on the spot. It's tough; this whole recruiting process is tough.

NN: PSU was the most recent school to offer and, the last time we talked, you had some concerns with the fact they had a highly touted incoming quarterback. Now, with Steven Bench transferring, how does that affect your interest? What's your take on that?

MO: That's definitely -- obviously, you like that as a quarterback. I know I have to compete anywhere I go. But knowing if I choose Penn State that there'll only be two scholarship quarterbacks there, that's intriguing.

You usually don't get that at such a big school. That's definitely piqued my interest. That's helped a lot. It works out for me; that's good for me. So, I mean, you know it's tough for the school. But, for a recruit like me, it's pretty cool.

NN: What do you think's going to separate the school you commit to with the runner-up?

MO: I think, first off, academics. I think football can be taken away from you any day, but I want to go to a good college because that sets you up for the rest of your life. That's something I've learned from here -- football can be here one day and gone the next.

And, also, the coaching staff. I want a good relationship with the coaches and I want to play with an offense that suits my style of play. I'd like to play in a pro-style offense.

NN: You transferred to IMG Academy in January. What's it been like to learn under former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, and how have these past few months helped you?

MO: I think it's helped me out a lot. I've been getting more consistent; my footwork's been getting better, my throwing motion, my mechanics. It's starting to get to the point where I'm doing it properly all the time instead of most of the time. And, also, it's just learning the time and dedication it takes to be a quarterback. Just learning the game, it's been great for me. I've learned a lot about the game of football.

The best part? Probably just the environment. [Weinke] has been there and done that. He's done everything that I want to accomplish one day. Just the advice and knowing that he knows what he's doing and just having him and picking his brain all the time and getting little tidbits of information here and there.

NN: What do you feel makes you such a good QB? And what's the one thing you need to get better at?

MO: I think what makes me such a good quarterback is that, to start off, God's blessed me with the talent and I have a great arm and just great skills at the position. But, beyond that, I think it's my passion and dedication to the game. That's pushed me. It's gotten me to where I am now. I'm so dedicated and you put that together with my talent, I think that's what makes me the quarterback I am.

And, let me think about weaknesses. You never want to give away those. But I think one thing that comes to mind when I throw a bad ball, I can usually always see it's because of locking my front leg. When I don't lock up my front leg, I can make plays. So, right now, if I do a throw a bad ball, it's because of that. I think that's one thing I can improve on, but that comes with more work and getting more consistent. That's one thing I'm working on right now.