Duffy Daugherty Football Building

East Lansing, MI

When Tyler O’Connor pledged to the Michigan State Spartans for their 2013 football recruiting class I said at the time, “O’Connor is the best high school quarterback that I have ever seen.” To this date I have seen several good ones since, but still none better than him.

It was no shock that he was selected by his teammates to lead this team. He is a natural leader and gifted athlete. So what was his reaction upon being named captain by his teammates?

“Putting official tags and titles on things obviously does mean something, but in the end I have had the mentality of the starting quarterback and the mentality of being a leader or a captain on this team regardless. So, sure it is nice to finally get the title with the plaque saying captain or things like that on it, but at the same time, it is not going to change who I am, what I’ve done or how I am going to treat each and every day here. “

O’Connor spoke with me on Spartan Nation radio when he committed to MSU about the QB legacy in East Lansing and he mentioned it again when asked about looking to the past as a key to leading.

“The coolest thing about this place is, and this is the God’s honest truth, I have gotten a text from Kirk (Cousins), I have gotten a text from Brian Hoyer, I have gotten a text from Connor (Cook) and (Andrew) Maxwell. And that was before today. Even just after being named starting quarterback and everything like that. Everybody cares so much and you just join a great group of guys and it means a lot just to be mentioned in the same group with them.”

So while O’Connor is a genuine humble young man, this star from Lima, Ohio, is honest about the honor of being a Spartan captain. “It means a lot. It is something that has been a goal of mine since I stepped on campus. Before I got here, Kirk Cousins was a three-time captain. That was originally my goal. I have always felt like such a leader and I love being in charge of things. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I finally get my chance to step up and do what I can do. To have the respect and votes of our other players, it really means a lot.”

O’Connor knows that the Spartans have had a monster tradition of great captains. It goes back over a generation and O’Connor is well aware of that legacy. So to be named to that stable of leaders means a lot to the reflective young man.

“You join a cradle of a very elite group of guys when you get voted captain here, not only on the field, but off of the field as well. There are some guys that have done some amazing things here. It a tribute to how long this program has been successful and how respected the guys that come through here are. It is an honor just to be included in the same paragraph as them.”

So does being named a captain really change anything? According to O’Connor you bet it does. “Obviously, you are held to a very high standard; as a captain, as a starting captain, both. I hold that dear to my heart and I always I have. It is something that I have held to my heart because of my family name and that is how I have been raised and everything like that. The mentality doesn’t change. It is how I have always been, but at the same time, you have to realize even more that everything you do is national news, good or bad, so you have to hold that close to your heart.”

Tyler O’Connor, over his career at MSU, has been an ideal teammate, a great person, and a true testament to the type of young man Mark Dantonio recruits.   The son of Mike and Barb O’Connor, the Spartan’s signal caller has done everything you can ask of a student athlete.

He spent eighteen days in Australia (June-July 2015) participating in MSU’s study abroad International Summer Sports Program. He has already earned his bachelor’s degree in supply chain management in December 2015 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in marketing research. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2016.

In 2016 he sits at the helm of the Spartan ship. He has now been given a big chance to add to an already impressive resume. As good of a person as you can ask, he is now ready to prove he is also as good of a QB that you have seen. He reminds me of former Spartan and current Phoenix Cardinal QB Drew Stanton and I bet you see some plays designed around what Drew did at MSU. The Spartans offensive play calling must show him off in 2016, not for the sake of showing him off, but to utilize his talents to their max.

We already know that Stanton was the greatest Spartan leader of the modern era and I fully expect O’Connor to mimic Stanton’s leadership qualities. That alone points to this shaping up to be a special season for O’Connor.