The Michigan coaching staff has been moving at a deliberate pace in 2014 quarterback recruiting, and one of the prime candidates vying for a scholarship offer is IMG Academy signal caller, Michael O’Connor. Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges made his way to the Sunshine State last Wednesday to observe the newly reclassified quarterback in person and was apparently treated to an impressive performance.
“It was good,” a confident O’Connor said of his showing. “(Borges) got to watch me throw for half an hour. It was just me and about five receivers and I was getting a lot of good throws in. I was throwing the ball all over the field, all different routes, and he got to see basically what my whole game is about. I thought that was good. I threw as good as I have been since being down here. It’s not perfect… there are still things that I need to work on, but I think I showed off what my game is and the type of quarterback I am. I was happy with my performance. Things went pretty well, so I was happy.”
Only weeks into his time at IMG after transferring from the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, O’Connor has already seen tangible growth in his game. The rapid improvement is a direct result of receiving the expert tutelage of his new head coach, former NFL and Heisman trophy winning quarterback, Chris Weinke.
“Me being such a tall quarterback, I would always stand tall and throw… but when I would stand up tall I wouldn’t get any power off my throws because I would kind of be up on my toes,” O’Connor explained. “When you’re on your toes you don’t really get enough power in your throws, but when you get down in a low base you’re able to fire the ball better. That’s probably the biggest difference… just staying low. That has allowed me to get more zip on my passes, and that’s definitely helped. The other thing, too, is just all the little details. There are so many little technicalities at the quarterback position, and I’m still learning every day. So those are probably the two things that I can say I’ve been working on the most, and it’s going well. I’m really enjoying it.”
That O’Connor stands to improve experience further growth over the next year under Weinke’s watchful eye likely boosts his stock even more. During a recent phone conversation with Borges the talented youngster was given a better feel for where things stand with the Maize & Blue.
“He just told me about the quarterback situation right now, in terms of 2013 quarterbacks… and the situation right now in terms of the roster at Michigan and how it would be a better fit for the 2014 quarterback going in there with only two, maybe three, other quarterbacks there,’” O’Connor recalled. “He was just telling me how they like to keep a small group of quarterbacks there and how if I went there. I’d have a good chance to get some playing time.”
“Basically what he told me was that when he gets back from Michigan he’s going to sit down with the other coaches, and they’re going to make a decision about what quarterback they want to offer. He said I’m at the top of his list, so I guess I’m happy with that, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
To date the 6-5, 200-pounder has picked up offers from Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Buffalo, Toledo, and Akron. While the Wolverines are being looked upon in a favorable light, O’Connor’s current list of favorites is comprised of teams on the aforementioned scholarship list.
“I’d have to stay Michigan State and Vanderbilt are the two schools at the top,” he said. “Michigan State was one of the first schools to offer me. Just the respect that they showed me… and it was Coach Dantonio who offered me personally, so I definitely like the respect. They said that they only take one quarterback for each class, and I was on the phone with Coach Dantonio the other day and he said they’ve offered me and two other 2014 quarterbacks. Right now those are the three that they’re going to try to recruit hard.”
“(If Michigan were to offer) they’d be right up there with those two schools. Just out of respect for Michigan State and Vanderbilt, I can’t say that Michigan is the straight number one team. If the offer does come, then I’ll be in a better situation, but for now that’s going to be my answer.”
The deliberation amongst coaches in Ann Arbor over which of quarterback to offer won’t come a moment too soon considering O’Connor’s timeline for making his choice.
“2014 the recruiting has picked up a little bit, so I think within the next four to six weeks I’ll have a pretty clear picture of what schools might be interested and where I stand,” he said. “I’m hoping to make a decision sometime like I said, between four and six weeks from now. Like I said, I kind of want to decide early so I can focus on my last year of school.”