No football team can do much without a good quarterback, and Spartan fans should be feeling good about the next four or five years at the position.Â With the graduation of senior Kirk Cousins, current sophomore Andrew Maxwell is expected to fill the void in 2012.Â Â Spartan Nation recently caught up with the player who will study under Maxwell for the next two years before likely taking over: Tyler Oâ€™Connor of Lima, Ohio.Â Spartan Nation recently caught up with Dantonio’s newest prized QB prospect.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Oâ€™Connor is a great football player by any measurement.Â The Lima Central Catholic High School senior has been awarded countless accolades, and when he once measured the speed of his throw, it came in at more than 80 miles per hour.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œAlmost all of that goes to my quarterbacks coach,â€ says Oâ€™Connor.Â â€œHeâ€™s done everything with me from 8th grade until now, and weâ€™re still working together.Â By trade heâ€™s a baseball coach, but heâ€™s helped me with quarterbacking and is great with mechanics.Â Without him I wouldnâ€™t be where I am.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â His on-field success may only be overshadowed by the way he carries himself off the field.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œWhether it be in the classroom getting the right grades or taking me to church every Sunday, my mom and dad set me in the right direction,â€ he says.Â Â â€œThe last couple years, Iâ€™ve obviously had more freedom and have been around kids who donâ€™t always make the best decisions, and I have had to know to avoid those situations.Â Iâ€™ve learned that, and it all goes back to my mom and dad raising me well. Iâ€™ll have to take that into the next four or five years at Michigan State.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â His dedication to academics has paid off, as he will graduate high school in May with a 3.85 grade point average.Â
He credits his parents, Mike and Barb, for all of it.
â€œThey got everything right,â€ he says, â€œand leading up to this, none of it could have been done without them.Â They took me everywhere, they helped me make decisions, and they always taught me to do the right thing whether someone was paying attention or not.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In addition to understanding the importance of acting right, Oâ€™Connor prides himself on his ability to lead his teammates.
â€œI think my best attribute is being a leader,â€ he says.Â â€œNot just on the field but off the field.Â I try to do my best with my actions and my words, and then when weâ€™re on the field Iâ€™m the one in charge getting people in place and making the right decisions and things like that.Â Its obviously a big part of being quarterback, and I feel that I do it well.â€
It is not hard to see that the emphasis he places on the intangibles has had a significant impact on the way he is able to play the game.
â€œIâ€™d like to think itâ€™s a big part of why Iâ€™ve been successful in the past,â€ he says.Â Â â€œAs a quarterback, I canâ€™t let anyone get down and have got to keep everyone involved no matter what.Â If someone drops a pass, I try to keep them up.Â Itâ€™s not like Iâ€™ve never made a mistake before.Â Youâ€™ve almost got to have the mindset to just forget the last play and throw to them again â€“ it doesnâ€™t matter if they dropped it the last time.Â Youâ€™ve got to stay with your teammates no matter what happens, and theyâ€™ve got to know you have confidence in them.â€
His mature outlook on the game and how it should be played is sure to set him up to be successful right away in East Lansing, and he is anxious for the opportunity.
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to taking it all to the next level.â€