One of the top high school programs in the state of Tennessee got better this summer when quarterback Michael O’Connor transferred to The Baylor School in Chattanooga from Canada.
O’Connor has been tearing up the camp circuit this summer, impressing at Elite 11 events and 7on7 tournaments and generally showing elite arm talent. There is no questioning his ability and the time is coming to see if that ability will translate in the bigtime football of the southeast.
“The biggest difference is definitely the speed of the game,” O’Connor said of his adjustment. “It’s a lot faster than I’m used to. I’m just adjusting and getting used to it. I think I’d be behind if I didn’t have 7on7 tournaments and I think that’s benefited me a lot. That’s really helped me.”
Those 7on7 tournaments helped to put O’Connor on the map and he has since solidified his standing as an elite recruit by collecting offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State, Buffalo, Toledo, Akron and Vanderbilt.
Many have classified O’Connor as a 2015 prospect but in fact, the 16-year will graduate with the class of 2014 at Baylor. As of now though, he doesn’t plan on going to college following his senior year in high school. Even with that offer list that is likely to grow, he is hoping to take a post-grad year in prep school to continue to develop and gain experience.
“The plan now is I can go to a post-grad school or I can take like four months off and go visit my family in Canada and enroll in the spring,” he said. “I’d be happy to graduate in 2014 but coming from Canada, I can really use another year and I think it would benefit me. I’ve never been in a serious football program so another year would benefit me for my future.”
That sort of patience may be tough to follow through on if the offers keep piling up at this rate for O’Connor. After visits for camp at Michigan, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, the word has gotten out on O’Connor’s ability. While none of the early offers have necessarily separated themselves for O’Connor, one camp experience was unique.
“Definitely Michigan State when I camped there, it was amazing,” he said. “When I got there, Coach (Mark) Dantonio took me up to his office and he offered me personally. Michigan State showed me a lot of respect so they jump out.”
As a new resident of Tennessee, O’Connor touched on his stops at both of his in-state programs as well.
“Coach (James) Franklin and his coaching staff are definitely on the right track right now,” he said. “They’re definitely going to do a lot of big things in the future. I definitely really enjoyed being at Vanderbilt. All the renovations they’re doing at their facilities, you can tell they’re on the right track and they’re going to be a good school for football and academics.
“Tennessee I thought was a lot of fun. I liked it at Tennessee. The coaches are nice. They definitely know their football. It’s crazy the renovations that they’re doing as well.”
In the coming days, recruiting won’t much be on the agenda for O’Connor as he tries to nail down a starting job and prepare himself for the increased competition in the fall.
“As of right now it’s still a battle every day. I’m trying to get comfortable with the system. Nothing is given so I have to work hard every day.”