When Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School sophomore Michael O'Connor left Canada to move to Tennessee in order to pursue his football career, he wasn't sure what to expect.
Now that he's experienced almost an entire season of real southern football, O'Connor, who holds offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt among others, said he knows exactly what he needs to work on going forward.
"I think just being down here will end up improving my game a lot," he said. "I'm just learning and adjusting. At first it was a big difference, especially the speed, but the more I've played the more I've got used to it and I'm getting more comfortable."
O'Connor said the biggest difference is obviously the talent divide between the competition he was seeing in Canada and the players he's facing on a weekly basis. The field is Canada is also wider and longer, making throwing windows against U.S. competition much tighter.
"There's a lot less room for error," O'Connor said. "Plays happen really quickly and defensive players are faster and more aggressive. That was the biggest challenge for me."
In addition to his on-field introduction to southern football, many schools from across the Southeast have invited O'Connor for unofficial visits. He said experiencing SEC football up close and personal has been an eye-opening experience.
"Before I came down here I had never been to an NCAA game," O'Connor said. "Being able to watch Division 1 football, especially the SEC, in person has been crazy and I'm really loving it. To be able to play football on Friday nights and go to SEC games on Saturday … it really doesn't get much better than that."
O'Connor's football education will continue this weekend, when he travels to Tuscaloosa to watch Alabama take on Mississippi State.
"I'm really looking forward to it," O'Connor said. "I'm going to try to make a visit to LSU for a game, too, but that's eight hours away so it's a long drive."
O'Connor has already visited Auburn and Vanderbilt as well as a number of Midwest schools earlier this season. For the game day trips he's unable to make this fall, he's planning on hitting the camp and combine circuit pretty hard during the offseason.
"I want to go to a lot of different camps this year," he said. "It will be really important for me to keep putting myself out there. In the spring I'll get to go to a lot of the universities I haven't been able to see yet."