- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Quarterback Michael O'Connor plans to bury his nose in his 40-page high school playbook for the next few days. He needs something to do, after all, since he'll be visiting three more schools and driving more than 700 miles this week.
The ESPN Watch List signal-caller out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy visited Michigan State on Monday and will be at Notre Dame today. From there, he'll travel Wednesday to Penn State and Thursday to Rutgers before heading home to Canada for the rest of his two-week spring break.
"I wanted to visit those schools because they show a lot of interest in me and, out of respect for them, I think I should go down and see the coaches in person," O'Connor said. "It's one thing to talk to them on the phone and another thing to see them in person, visit the school and meet with the academic people. That's a big benefit."
Penn State quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher first reached out to O'Connor about two months ago, and the two have remained close. The 6-foot-5 recruit said that's important because he counts his relationship with those coaches as his top priority. Academics follow closely behind.
"Everything else is a bonus," said the intended business major. "Nothing else is a real deal-breaker; those are just the two main things in my opinion."
There are two issues slightly working against the Nittany Lions. For one, O'Connor said, the sanctions wouldn't allow him to see a bowl game for two seasons. And incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg will likely provide some stiff competition.
The Canada native said those elements are "not a huge deal," and are the only things that appear to be cons for PSU. He didn't hesitate, however, when asked what most interested him about Penn State.
"First of all, it's their offense which is very intriguing for me," he said. "Not many schools run that style of offense anymore, and that's an offense I can excel in, so that's a good main reason. And it's Penn State football. I mean, the tradition is great -- and it's just a good program."
O'Connor does not yet hold an offer from Penn State, but he boasts eight scholarship offers from the likes of Michigan State, Rutgers and Vanderbilt. He's also been to several Alabama, LSU and Auburn games.
The quarterback played in Canada as a sophomore and threw 51 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He then transferred to Chattanooga, Tenn., to play at Baylor High School before again moving to Florida, where he's now coached by former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
16dMitch Sherman and Brian Bennett