A year ago, Michael O'Connor was a kid in Ottawa, Canada with a dream of playing American football. Today he holds six Division I scholarship offers and his world continues to change.
O'Connor transferred to the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., this past season to increase his visibility with college coaches and familiarity with American football after a sensational camp and combine season. Originally a class of 2015 prospect, O'Connor has made two major changes to his situation since the season ended.
"I have reclassified to be an early graduate in the class of 2014, so I plan on graduating in 12 months. I have also switched schools and am at IMG Academy now, down in Florida.
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O'Connor started working out at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., even before he transferred, but now he is fully immersed in the program and seeing the results in his quarterback skills.
"It has been great so far," O'Connor said. "I have been training every day with Chris Weinke and his staff. The amount I have learned in such a short time, I am definitely getting a lot better down here. Everything Coach Weinke went through playing in college and the NFL, he has a lot of experience and knows what it is like to be there. It's great getting his experience… not just on the field, but off the field."
Reclassifying from the class of 2015 to the class of 2014 is not an issue for O'Connor, who will turn 18 shortly after early enrolling at the school of his choice next year. The change has not adversely affected his college recruitment either.
"[The feedback] has been mostly positive," O'Connor said. "The schools that have already offered said they still want me regardless of what class I am in. Other schools see that as a good thing too, they just want to get me down to their camp."
O'Connor has already picked up scholarship offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Akron, Toledo and Buffalo. He is also hearing extensively from Alabama and made three visits to Tuscaloosa this past fall for games.
"They said they won't extend an offer unless I go there and have a workout with Coach [Doug] Nussmeier, the offensive coordinator, so they can evaluate me," O'Connor said of the Crimson Tide.
"After their big win against Notre Dame they are basically a dynasty now. Just getting a chance to play in that would be pretty awesome, but there's [interest] in lots of schools."
Georgia and several other schools across the SEC have shown interest in O'Connor, and he likes the idea of playing in that conference. But schools in other conferences interest the Canada native as well.
"Stanford has asked for my transcript," O'Connor said. "They've shown an interest in me and that's definitely mutual. The biggest thing for me is academics."
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound O'Connor is a drop-back, pro-style quarterback. However, he played in an option offense at the Baylor School this past year and was still able to manage seven passing touchdowns and six rushing scores.
"Even though it wasn't my type of offense, I proved to myself I am an athletic quarterback," O'Connor said. "Even though I am not a dual-threat quarterback, I know now I can make plays when nothing downfield is open."
IMG Academy is putting a football team together for the first time in 2013. They will be independent and not eligible for the post-season, but will have a full 10-game schedule next fall.