Since head coach Bill O’ Brien has been on the Penn State University campus serving as the leader of its football program, many have sensed a change in the culture. Implementing a different style of offense and stitching players’ names on the back of the jerseys are just two examples of the improving status of the illustrious football program.
Lately though, there seems to maybe be another change on the horizon. Could the nickname of the football program slowly be making a transition from ‘Linebacker U’ to ‘Quarterback U?’
It certainly seems that way. Especially when you take into account what happened earlier today.
With speculation rampant lately that this may indeed happen, it was confirmed Saturday that O’ Brien and the Nittany Lions received a verbal commitment from 4-star QB prospect, Michael O’ Connor.
Becoming the 11th member of PSU’s 2014 recruiting class, O’ Connor is a major land for the Lions. He’s the prototypical pro-style pocket passer that O’ Brien can build a dangerous offense around. At 6-4 and 223-pounds, he personifies the definition of standing tall in the pocket.
O’ Connor has consistently shown incredible arm-strength, especially on the short-to-medium routes. Now that’s not to say that he can’t throw the ball deep down the field, it just seems that his comfort level is more in the area of zipping the ball past defenders in the short game. However, with still a year to develop at the high school level, there’s certainly ample time for him to develop a dangerous deep-ball attack.
Since January, the soon-to-be high school senior has been enrolled at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where he has been working with former Heisman winner, Chris Weinke.
As far as the prospects for his future are concerned, O’Connor could find himself in quite the envious situation.
O’ Connor will more than likely take over the quarterbacking duties when Christian Hackenberg is finished in Happy Valley. With the prized recruit seemingly in position to take over the Lions this season, that would make his senior season of eligibility arrive during the 2016 campaign. Now, this is also assuming that he hasn’t developed into a top NFL prospect before that time and is out after his junior season.
Whether he redshirts or not, O’ Connor will presumably be the QB at Penn State when their sanctions are done in 2017. This would put him in position to be the first Penn State signal-caller to win a bowl game in eight years.
It’s become a reoccurring theme, but yet again the Penn State Nittany Lions seemed to have struck recruiting gold, even after the NCAA shot them into the furthest depths of a coal mine.