Michigan State's 2012 QB Tyler O'Connor Continues to Shine and Spartan Nation Caught up with Him

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O'Connor is already an elite QB, but is growing into a special young man.  Photo courtesy of O'Connor.

O'Connor is already an elite QB, but is growing into a special young man. Photo courtesy of O'Connor.

 

The quarterback of the 2012 recruiting class is a winner. An all-around athlete and good kid, Tyler O’Connor is a great fit for Spartan Nation. Recently he took time to talk with us at Spartan Nation Radio.

           O’Connor is a senior at Lima Central Catholic High School, located in Ohio. Tyler is a class act, thanks in part to his upbringing. “I know I’ve grown up well and my parents have raised me well,” said the young recruit. O’Connor also takes part in service projects, such as Give a Christmas. “You realize how fortunate you are,” Tyler said. As great a kid as he is, O’Connor is every bit as great as a football player.

The 6’3 205 pound prospect has great potential. Ranked as an upper-tier three star recruit by ESPN and Rivals, O’Connor possesses a cannon arm and great consistency. The youngster wasn’t always a consistent passer, though. In his freshman and sophomore years combined, Tyler completed 52% of his passes. In each year, he threw for just over 1,630 yards. The first flashes of his brilliance came in his sophomore year, however, as he threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for five more. Then, the breakout came in his junior year.

The phenom completed 62% of his throws for 2,516 yards and 27 touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 470 yards, averaging 4.28 yards per carry while racking up 13 TD’s. And oh, by the way, O’Connor is his team’s kicker and punter, too. Last season, he converted 52 of 56 extra points and even hit a field goal from 54 yards out and also averaged 43 yards per punt. Most importantly, O’Connor is a smart player. He makes the right decisions, doesn’t turn the ball over, and so forth.

When asked on Spartan Nation Radio what it means to be a smart quarterback, Tyler responded: “I think the key word right there is decision making. That’s something I’ve always taken to heart because my quarterback coach has expressed that to me the most.” O’Connor reasoned: “If you make good decisions, don’t turn the ball over or lose chains, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

An NFL scout evaluated the new MSU recruit last year. The scout had much praise and some advice for O’Connor. During the interview with the new Spartan, host Hondo Carpenter read aloud the NFL scout’s tidbits on Tyler on Spartan Nation Radio. Tyler had the chance to react to the feedback on the air. The scouting report and O’Connor’s reaction are below.

Positive:

1. Good decision-making. Scout- “The young man is wise beyond his years. He understands that sometimes throwing the ball away or taking a sack is a helluva lot more important than a turnover.”        

O’Connor: “That’s something my coaches have expressed to me: you live to play another down, and you hear that almost everywhere. You’re right: if you turn the ball over it just makes it a lot harder to win games”

2. Makes smart throws. Scout: “Most guys that have a cannon for an arm like O’Conner try to put the ball where they shouldn’t. They have to understand just because you have a strong arm doesn’t mean you have a great receiver who can catch bullets and it doesn’t mean that the other defensive back isn’t good. He understands what he’s got under there, he just understands that sometimes it’s better to rev than throw it in gear.”

O’Connor: “I think a lot of that is getting the ball to the right guy, you gotta know who your playmakers are….With the defense, you have to know who you’re playing against, and that’s a big part of scouting.”

Negative:

1. Needs to learn how to slide. Scout: “He’s going to have to learn sometimes what it means to slide. At the next level, those guys are big and fast and the way he likes to go headfirst, he’s going to get himself killed.”

O’Connor: “Yeah, that’s hard for me to take in right now just because I would say that I’m bigger than most of the competition but I’ve heard that a lot…. That’s just kind of naturally how I am: I was a running back before I was a quarterback.”

Advice:

1. Don’t stop talking. Scout: “He’s a great communicator: I don’t think the kid ever stops talking. In the huddle, at the line, on the sidelines: he’s always talking and he certainly has the respect of his teammates. I would hope for him when he gets to college that doesn’t change. When the guys are older and bigger and faster and stronger at the next level, he may feel intimidated to be quiet. To be special (and I certainly think he can), he needs to keep talking.”

O’Connor: “We have a young team this year and I’ve really noticed that I have to be a coach on the field a lot more than I ever have.”

If an NFL scout already has high praise for O’Connor, that bodes well for his collegiate career at Michigan State. Recently, Tyler attended the Elite 11 Quarterback camp in California. Many former college and pro players and even some current players (such as MSU’s own Kirk Cousins, who O’Connor spent a lot of time with) attended to mentor some highly touted QB recruits. “I would say it’s one of my favorite experiences of my whole life. I got to spend time with many great coaches and some even better kids,” said O’Connor. “I felt like I improved more this week than I ever have in a week’s span. I learned a lot.”

Coach Dantonio is already has great confidence in his young signal caller. In a recent visit, he allowed O’Connor to call a play in the huddle. The experience opened Tyler’s eyes to the fact that he needs to focus on being a leader, especially at his position: “I just know I have to stand tall, look all my teammates in the eye and be confident in every call that I make. That’s just something I’m going to have to stick with as I grow.” Already, Tyler has been a leader in being very active in recruiting players to come to Michigan State.

In regards to the upswing in the competition, O’Connor is certainly ready for the challenge. Though the college game will bring bigger players, tougher decisions, and a faster game, Tyler is ready to not only be a Spartan, but also a leader of the Spartans: “I know it’s going to be a big difference, but I won’t be intimidated to it and I know I have to be the leader on the field.”

If you would like to listen to O'Connor's latest interview on Spartan Nation Radio SIMPLY CLICK HERE.

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