O'Neill Pumped By Auburn's "Atmosphere"

Linebacker Conor O'Neill discusses his official visit to check out the Auburn football Tigers.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.--With two visits done and one more to go before decision time, St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Conor O'Neill said he thoroughly enjoyed his weekend in Auburn on an official recruiting visit.

"I visited Clemson last week and I am going to visit Wisconsin in two weeks and after that trip I should be ready to make my decision on where I want to attend college," the linebacker tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. He said that he likes all three colleges and isn't ready to name a leader.

"I loved my visit to Auburn, especially the game atmosphere," he said. "It is terrific to see 87,000 people so in to a football game. You can tell it is important to them. You can tell that football is really big at Auburn.

"The whole weekend was a blast," he said. "I had a great time and the only thing more I could have asked for was a win. It was a great game, a game for the ages.

"The atmosphere was wonderful and I got to hang out with three of my old teammates," he noted. Auburn sophomore Wes Byrum, freshman receiver Philip Pierre-Louis and freshman safety Christian Thompson played at St. Thomas Aquinas, too.

On Saturday night after the game, he went out with Byrum and said he had a good time. On Friday night with the team not on campus, he spent the evening with freshman quarterback Brent Poole, who is redshirting.

"My sophomore year Wes was the senior kicker and I was on the kickoff team with him and the field goal team with him," O'Neill said. "We have known each other since we got to St. Thomas so I have established a pretty good relationship with him."

The linebacker said he toured campus, met with academic advisers, checked out the football facilities and met with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall. "I also spent time with Coach Willis (linebacker coach James Willis) and Coach Tuberville (head coach Tommy Tuberville). I looked around at everything and took everything in.

"I would put my visit right up there with the one to Clemson," he added. "Clemson and Auburn are very similar. I have heard that Clemson is Auburn with a lake and they are a lot alike. I had a blast at Auburn. The game experience is one I will never forget with 87,000 people screaming the whole time.

O'Neill, who made the trip with his parents, said as his family was pulling into the complex one of the first people they saw was former St. Thomas Aquinas star Philip Pierre-Louis, who is on crutches rehabbing from knee surgery after being injured on the opening kickoff of the season.

"It is definitely upsetting that such a great player like Phil got hurt, especially on the first play, but I know Phil and he is a hard worker. He will bounce back."

O'Neill said he hopes to get his college choice out of the way before too deep into in his senior season. "I am taking my trip to Wisconsin in two weeks and hopefully I will get my decision made soon after that," he said. "All three schools are neck, and neck and neck."

O'Neill's St. Thomas Aquinas team was off last Friday. The defending state champions are 2-0 with victories of Elder High of Cincinnati and local rival Cardinal Gibbons. This week his team takes on South Plantation.

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