We haven’t had much of an opportunity of late to include the fine staff of VBR with their predictions surrounding Penn State football. Michael O’Connor is set to announce his verbal commitment at 1:00 this afternoon, and our staff has some thoughts on where one of the top pro style quarterbacks in the country will decide to attend college.
MATT DE BEAR – VBR LEAD EDITOR
Mr. O’Connor has been an intriguing story since early this spring, when he earned an offer from Bill O’Brien and Penn State. At the time, it seemed a tad odd that PSU would be offering a quarterback, given the scholarship restrictions, and depth situation. However, by mid April, Michael had his offer from the Nittany Lions, and it seemed pretty obvious BOB wanted a quarterback in this class. However, when Steven Bench opted to transfer to South Florida, it became almost a requirement to land a QB in 2014.
From the time that O’Connor got his offer from PSU, it was obvious he was the staff’s top choice. From all indications, the IMG Academy signal caller is favoring the Nittany Lions, and I fully expect him to pick Penn State later today. O’Connor is a very refined QB, having worked with Heisman winner Chris Weinke, and upon his arrival in State College in January of 2014, I expect him to push both Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg for the starting job. Perhaps more importantly, Bill O’Brien has again shown he can attract one of the top signal callers in the country.
TIM TOLLEY- FANSIDED RECRUITING EDITOR
Before Steven Bench transferred, fans were a little skeptical about bringing on another scholarship quarterback. Now, the idea of not adding a quarterback seems borderline scary. Fortunately for Penn State, Bill O’Brien has quickly developed a reputation among QBs and that has him in good shape with Michael O’Connor. The buzz about O’Connor for some time has been that Penn State is in the lead and will become a Nittany Lion. In fact, I used my first prediction on the 247Sports Crystal Ball to predict that O’Connor will commit to Penn State.
O’Connor will add immediate depth to an already strong Penn State quarterback unit. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m concerned a little about his ceiling and upside. However, it’s hard to imagine a quarterback not getting better under the coaching of Bill O’Brien.
COREY HUNTERY-VBR STAFF WRITER
The Bill O’Brien era at Penn State has been filled with many surprises, both good and bad, but mainly good! Saturday be another one of those “good” surprises. One of the nation’s top prep quarterbacks, Michael O’Connor from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, is set to make his much-anticipated college decision.
O’Connor, the #3-ranked pocket passer in ESPN’s top-150, has a strong arm and the vision to be able to hit his target anywhere on the field. If O’Connor chooses Penn State, coach O’Brien will add another top-level passer to his ever-growing arsenal. It is believed that due to scholarship reductions for the next 2 years, Penn State would not be actively recruiting a quarterback in the 2014 class with the recent additions of in-coming freshman phenom Christian Hackenberg and sophomore JUCO transfer Tyler Ferguson. Penn State also has a compliment of run-on quarterbacks in DJ Crook and Austin Whipple. However, the unexpected springtime departure of Steven Bench, who was not only Matt McGloin’s backup last year, but also an heir-apparent for the starting position entering 2013, has left the Nittany Lions with a void at one of the most important positions on the field.
While the cupboard may look full at the quarterback position for Penn State, a deeper inspection shows that while there are many bodies for the position, most have little game experience and none of the quarterbacks on the current roster have ever played a game at the Division 1 level. Coach O’Brien was forced to address the issue, and while many recruiting analysts have indicated that he will hold a scholarship for O’Connor if he chooses Penn State, the lack of developed talent and depth at the quarterback position has become even more pressing issue. Having a quarterback with the pedigree and overall skills that O’Connor possesses would be a huge plus for the Nittany Lions, which makes Saturday’s decision by O’Connor even more important for the Lions.
Penn State is in good shape to land O’Connor who has also received scholarship offers from schools like Mississippi State, Michigan State, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, and Syracuse, just to name a few.
I will not be shocked, if Penn State and coach O’Brien are able to pull off this minor coup and pull a player, especially one with the skill level that O’Connor clearly possesses, out of the South. I look for O’Connor, who has a strong relationship with PSU quarterback coach Charlie Fisher, to deliver some good news to Happy Valley on Saturday and pick the Nittany Lions over the multitude of “also-rans”.
ERIC SION-VBR STAFF WRITER
As many others have pointed out leading up to O’Connor’s decision, Penn State appears to be in good shape to land the four-star quarterback. I don’t see him committing to Vanderbilt, Rutgers or Michigan State because those schools already have quarterbacks in their 2014 class. O’Connor is also considering Mississippi State and Missouri. Even though those two schools reside in the country’s toughest conference, they’re two places where O’Connor could probably get playing time early in his college career. With all that being said, my gut tells me that Penn State will be O’Connor’s choice. Everyone knows what Bill O’Brien and Charlie Fisher are capable of in terms of working with and developing quarterbacks. And even though O’Connor would take a back seat to Christian Hackenberg for a couple years, the logical choice for him would be Penn State.