June 5, 2011

It'll be a 'coin flip' for O'Connor

With quarterback prospect Tyler O'Connor making progress toward a final decision between Michigan State and Northwestern, those around him say it's too close to call.

"I think it is going to come down to almost flipping a coin between those two teams," said Lima Central Catholic football coach Jerry Cooper.

positives for Michigan State and Northwestern for SpartanMag.com on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound signal caller plans to have a family meeting, possibly as soon as Sunday night, to inch toward a final decision.

"He wants to do it here fairly early in June," Cooper said. "He is going on vacation in another week or so and that decision might be coming down here before he goes on vacation. I'll be eager to see what he decides."

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.

Earlier this week, he was invited to the Elite 11 national camp.

"He has 17 or 18 other Division I offers, and you can go right down the list of some great places that wanted him: Vanderbilt, Virginia, Boston College, West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana and many others," Cooper said. "But he has narrowed it down to Michigan State and Northwestern."

Cooper didn't indicate whether O'Connor spends more time talking about one school over the other.

"Both of those programs have great similarities," Cooper said. "They are both excellent Big Ten programs. They both have rock-solid coaches that provide really stable environments, and they are both real good fits for Ty.

"They are close enough to home that mom and dad can drive and see him play. I think the coaching stability has been real critical for him. I think he felt real comfortable with both Pat Fitzgerald and Coach Dantonio. Those guys have established programs. Their longevity is set. They have great facilities and there are just a lot of positives going on in those programs. Those are the things that attracted Ty to those two schools.

"Probably the difference is Northwestern has maybe a little higher end academic stuff, but Michigan State has a bigger stadium, maybe a little bit more football atmosphere and football emphasis."

Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel has served as O'Connor's primary recruiter for the Spartans.

"He has been in a couple of times and Coach Warner, their quarterbacks coach, was in," Cooper said. "Those guys have had a chance to see him and they are pretty excited about him. As much as they are allowed, they have been communicating with him and kept him on the line."

Northwestern running backs coach Matt MacPherson served as the Wildcats' primary recruiter for O'Connor.

"I think he really wanted to play in the Big Ten," Cooper said. "It's funny, growing up he was a Notre Dame fan and he wants to go some place that he knows is going to play Notre Dame, and now Northwestern will be playing Notre Dame for the next few years, and Michigan State always plays them.

"He's a great kid and no matter where he goes he will find a way to be successful."


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