June 6, 2011

O'Connor had an MSU 'feeling in his heart'

Michigan State's fifth verbal commitment of the 2012 recruiting campaign is the Spartans' most highly-touted so far, as Elite 11 quarterback Tyler O'Connor of Lima (Ohio) Central Catholic High School committed to Michigan State over Northwestern on Monday evening.

"I think he has had a feeling in his heart for a long time that he wanted to go to Michigan State and it is finally a relief just to be able to say it and he committed to it," said Lima Central Catholic head coach Jerry Cooper.

O'Connor spoke with Cooper earlier on Monday evening, and learned of his quarterback's final decision.

"He called me and told me, 'Coach, I'm going to start calling the coaches. I'm not sure I want to get this out to the media,' cause he wanted to call all the coaches that had offered and talk to them personally about where he was going to go to school," Cooper said. "He was in the process of doing that today.

"Pat Fitzgerald from Northwestern called me and told me he had just gotten off the phone with Ty and Ty had told him he was going to commit to Michigan State. That was about 6 o'clock."

O'Connor (6-3, 202) committed to Michigan State over offers from Northwestern, Boston College, Illinois, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia among others. He sports a 3.8 GPA and has been timed at 4.7 in the 40-yard dash. He is also a terrific punter.

"He had told me last week that he would want to have that decision made before this Friday because his family was going on vacation starting this Friday, and he wanted to have that out of the way so that he could just go and enjoy vacation with his family and not have all the recruiters and people calling him," Cooper said. "So I knew that he was really getting serious about it. I guess him and his mom and dad sat down last night and decided, 'Hey, I'm pretty set where I want to go.'"

O'Connor completed 65 percent of his passes (110 of 170) last year for 2,023 yards in helping lead Lima Central Catholic to the Division V state semifinals. On the year, he averaged 18.4 yards per completion, with 26 TDs and 6 INTs.

Last week, he was officially extended an invitation to be one of the participants at the prestigious national Elite 11 Camp in California, later this summer.

"I think he is a great kid and hopefully he will have enough quarterback skill and talent to play at the big-time level and take them to the highest level and the thing that I would say is if he doesn't already have the skills, just show him what you want to do, because he is such a coachable kid, and he will do whatever Michigan State asks him to do, and that's one of the qualities that really makes him such a great kid," Cooper said. "He is so coachable and such a great personality to be around. Hey, he'll achieve at the next level based just on the fact that he has a lot of natural talent but the most important factor is all those intangibles that really help him rise to the top."

Michigan State has indicated to O'Connor that the Spartans are finished recruiting at the quarterback position for 2012. The Spartans had offers on the table to a handful of other quarterbacks, but O'Connor's commitment satisfies the Spartans.

"I think there are a lot of things that are very positive about Michigan State that helped influence (Tyler's) decision," Cooper said. "The first thing is he thought there was a real stable head coaching environment, and the coaching staff was on real stable ground, and are long-term committed to being there. And obviously the current quarterback situation, with them getting ready to play a senior quarterback, and then having a back-up, someone that he would be a couple years behind, so the current quarterback situation was positive.

"And the I think he felt real positive about the facilities and the educational opportunities for him, and he felt real comfortable around the coaches and the players that he met, and obviously Michigan State is one of those elite programs in the Big Ten and he felt real good about everything that he came in contact with and he just felt comfortable."

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