Blue White Roundtable: Alabama Week Edition
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Joey O’Connor Joins the Blue and White

Submitted by on June 29, 2011No Comment

Following the surprise commitments of Austin Johnson and Derek Dowrey over the weekend, there was much hysteria amongst the Penn State fanbase. Surely, they seemed to say, taking a chance on two relative unknowns would ruin the recruiting class, and signaled a disturbing shift in philosophy, even from early in the year.

jumped on board this morning, after camping at Penn State alongside Dowrey and Johnson.

“I made the call last night. I got together with my parents and talked about it for a bit and they said, ‘we could see it in your eyes, that’s where you want to go.’ So I got on the phone, called Coach Kenney and committed. I’m really excited, real pumped to get out there and I can’t wait.”

O’Connor said he knew after hit one trip to State College.

“When I got out there, I set foot on campus and I had this feeling that this was it,” he said. “I got to know Coach Kenney and I liked him. It’s a very special place out there, it’s a family and everybody cares about everybody. That put me over the edge.”

O’Connor might not be a huge name, but he’s certainly a huge kid, with a college-ready 6’5, 285 pound frame. As far as the recruiting services go, there’s a bit of disagreement on O’Connor. Scout ranks him as the #39 OT in the country, and gives him 3 stars, but Rivals, usually the more stingy of the two, grants O’Connor that oh-so-important-in-the-eyes-of-many fourth star, and ranks him in the top 250 players nationally. But despite a mediocre ranking, Scout offers a fairly glowing scouting report:

A high motor player no matter if he’s playing offense or defense. Offensive line is his future position in college. Currently plays left tackle but is better suited for right tackle or a move inside to guard. Uses his hands well, has good feet and athletic ability. Has a frame to be a 300+ pounder. Has some minor areas he could improve on; keeping his hands up in pass pro and getting his heals in the ground in his stance but all are correctable.

O’Connor, in many ways, reminds me of another Penn State commitment, one from last year. Ryan Nowicki didn’t give his verbal to Penn State until the winter, but like O’Connor, he came from an untraditional recruiting ground–Arizona, he had virtually the same measurables–6’5, 275, and though he was graded as only a good, not great prospect, his film showed a player with a mean streak, the kind of kid ho projects well to the next level.

O’Connor received scholarship offers from a wide variety of schools–from hometown Colorado to regional Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State–as well as other Pac-10 teams, including Cal, and UCLA. But the intriguing aspect to his recruitment was interest from the east–the Southeast, to be more particular, with reported offers from Tennessee and South Carolina. And though he never received an official offer, schools like Michigan, Nebraska, and Oklahoma were said to have been showing strong interest in O’Connor.

For more on O’Connor, read this at-times encouraging, and at-times bizarre profile from local newspaper Windsor Now. Some relevant excerpts:

“Most people go to parties on the weekends. I hate to say it, but I sit home and watch film,” O’Connor said. “I’ll watch last year’s film. I do not party. Not at all. My parents would kill me if they heard I was at a party. I’ll go hang out with friends, but as soon as they say they want to go to a party I’m out. I’m just not into it. My time’s valuable. I can find stuff that’s a lot more fun than getting drunk and high.”

Penn State is so interested in O’Connor that they’ve invited him to attend its “Seniors Only” camp June 24-25. Penn State told O’Connor that it normally doesn’t recruit outside of a 500-mile radius, but they like him so much that they’re making an exception for him. Penn State sent O’Connor a questionnaire, and he sent it back with some game film and the relationship between the two began.

“I want to be 295 pounds by the season,” said O’Connor, who has started on the offensive line for the Wizards since his freshman year. “Every week when we watch film and I watch that guy that I’m going up against, there’s something in my mind that I always think, ‘That guy’s bigger than me. That guy’s stronger than me even if he’s not, and he’s going to beat me.’ That makes me work even harder. Once I get in the game, I just try to flatten them.”

Here’s some video. Be impressed. Get excited. I sure am.

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