Recovery Mode

Like many players in the New Orleans region, this highly-honored defensive back saw a drastic drop-off in recruiting interest due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Archbishop Shaw High School's Tommy Connors was hailed as one of the top safeties in the region prior to the season, but the aftereffects of the devastating storm caused him to fall under the radar.

"Our season being shortened definitely affected recruiting," Connors told "The cell phones were out, there wasn't any communication. I didn't talk to a single coach for three weeks, and some coaches were still trying to find out if I was still at Shaw or if I had gone someplace else."

Connors noted that cell service didn't improve rapidly, and even after his school picked up its abbreviated schedule, only about 10% of calls were going through.

Compounding the problem was the fact that Shaw ended up playing only a five game regular season schedule, which drastically reduced the number of dates available for in-person evaluations by coaches. Faced with those issues, many coaches simply bypassed the Gulf Coast reason, leaving a number of talented athletes in limbo. And to top it off, Connors suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out of one game and severely limited him in another. Even with those handicaps, however, Connors made the most of the few chances he was afforded.

"I had four interceptions and 69 tackles," Connors said of his abbreviated campaign. "I got on several all-star teams, including the All-West Bank, All-Metro, and Class 4A All-State. I was also named our All-District defensive MVP."

Those honors, as well as his preseason reputation, have Connors on the list of just about every school in Louisiana except LSU. Out of state, West Virginia is the lone school that has stayed in touch with the hard-hitting defender.

"I have visits scheduled for Southeastern Louisiana, Louisiana Monroe and West Virginia," Connors said. "Most of the Louisiana schools have offered me, and of those, Southeastern is my favorite. But I like West Virginia a lot too, and even without an offer they are second on my list. If they offered, that could change."

Connors, who was out to dinner with his mother celebrating his all-state selection, didn't have the exact dates for all of his visits. He is set to visit Southeast Louisiana on Jan. 6, and also has January trips scheduled to ULL and WVU. He plans to conclude his five officials with trips to Louisiana-Lafayette and Nicholls State, and is working to set dates for them.

Despite not having visited West Virginia yet, Connors has found a lot to his liking about the Mountaineer program.

"They are in a BCS bowl, and I like the idea of something new, having a new experience," the well-spoken Connors said. "I like Coach Magee too – he's a cool guy. I've been talking to him every couple of weeks. He's from here, and the head coach used to coach here [at Tulane]."

Although WVU has not offered yet, Connors believes one might be forthcoming when he makes his trip.

"They have been hinting about that. It's not set in stone, but that's sort of what the talk has hinted at."

Connors, a free safety at Shaw, could also easily be a strong safety or even an outside linebacker in college.


Connors, whose family lives in Marrero, a western suburb of New Orleans, counted himself lucky to have avoided the worst of Katrina.

"We got lucky, because Marrero came through o.k.," Connors said. "Everyone has moved back in now, and my family didn't lose anyone. I am very lucky and very thankful for that. After the hurricane, my expectations changed. Every game we got to play felt like it could be my last."

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Connors also said his hamstring injury is fully recovered.

"It feels just as flexible and loose now as the other one."

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