When four-star quarterback Michael O'Connor made the decision to leave his school in Tennessee and transfer to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy he knew it was going to be tough. But after some initial homesickness (his family lives in his native Canada) he's settling in quite nicely.
"I love it here, it's been awesome," O'Connor said. "It's a good mix of athletics and academics, the coaching is great and the facilities are awesome. I'm living here on campus."
O'Connor, who reclassified from the Class of 2015 to the Class of 2014 when making the move, said he thinks the independent lifestyle will help him acclimate to college life faster. Also, leaving home at 16 is nothing new for Canadian athletes.
"A lot of my friends play hockey so they're living away from home, too," he said. "Of course, they're still in Canada and I'm pretty far away but I'm getting used to it."
As far as recruiting, O'Connor is getting plenty of visits during the spring evaluation period. One school that has been making the strongest push over the last month is Penn State.
"They're recruiting me the hardest right now," O'Connor said of the Nittany Lions. "Especially with them losing a quarterback recently. They really want me there and I think it would be a good fit."
O'Connor grew up studying tapes of Tom Brady on YouTube to learn proper footwork so the possibility of playing for his former position coach, now Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, is very intriguing.
"I got to meet with him when I went on a visit about a month ago," O'Connor said. "He's a great guy and has so much knowledge. He'd be a great head coach to have, especially for a quarterback who wants to make it to the NFL."
By the time O'Connor would arrive on campus in Happy Valley, Penn State would still have two more season of sanctions to face, but he said that's not factoring into his decision making process.
"I try not to think about it," he said. "It's something that's not going to play a big role if I decide to go there or not. They were up front and honest about it with me and I appreciate that."
As far as teams he's expecting to hear from in the spring, O'Connor said he could have some pretty big visitors stopping by campus.
"I know Notre Dame is coming for sure," he said. "They'll be here in two weeks and that would be a great offer to pick up."
"I know Arkansas is coming and I think that would be a good fit. With Wilson leaving and it being and SEC school it would be interesting."
Once he hosts a number of visitors and wraps up spring football, O'Connor said a decision is on the horizon.
"After our last spring practice in early June I'll start to cut them down and focus on where I want to go," he said. "I think I'll narrow it down and I hope to come to a decision sometime in June."
He added that he might still take a visit or two if he picks up new offers over the next few weeks.
"If a school offers me in the following weeks that I'm really interested in I'll take a visit there," he said. "After that I'll make a decision. It's all based on the coming weeks and what happens."