O’Connor is somewhat of a rarity in professional sports
– he is a Canadian quarterback who has a legitimate shot
at one day playing in the Canadian Football League at his
native recently took part in the CFL combine where he earned
rave reviews for his immense talent, his poise and his football
is held every year in the lead up to the CFL draft to give
teams a chance to meet potential prospects face-to-face
and ask them questions about everything from Xs and Os to
possible issues in their personal lives.
was a busy man at the combine, sitting down with six different
teams. That’s a lot for any prospect and is usually indicative
of first or second round pick.
part, O’Connor made the most of the opportunity to express
his love and commitment to the sport.
into it with a mission to show the teams a little bit more
of my person- ality, how passionate I am about football
and the type of person that I am,” O’Connor said in a recent
interview with the Orléans Star. “I think I really
did that, the teams got to know me better on a more personal
has spent the last four years at the University of British
Columbia where he led the UBC Thunderbirds to the 2015 Vanier
Cup as a freshman.
three years since reaching the pinnacle of Canadian college
football, O’Connor and his Thunderbird teammates lost to
the University of Calgary Dinos in twice the Western Conference
champ-ionship in 2016 and 2017 by less than four points,
and this past season they lost their opening playoff game
not only made O’Connor appreciate the Vanier Cup win that
much more, they made him appreciate the sport on a much
began his football career with the Orléans Bengals Football
Club where he led the peewee team to the 2009 NCAFA A-Cup
championship. Two years later, he led the bantam squad back
from the brink of defeat to win the B-Cup semi-final despite
having to play with a fractured hand.
up sitting out the final, but he did return to the field
two weeks later to lead the Ashbury Colts to the Conference
of Independent Schools Athletic Association provincial championship.
O’Connor headed south of the border where he played ball
for a prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That same year,
he was recruited by the IMG Academy in Florida where he
played his final year of high school eligibility in 2013.
several Division 1 schools expressed an interest in O’Connor’s
services. He eventually signed a letter of intent to play
at Penn State, where he was red-shirted in his freshman
year. During the off-season the coach who had recruited
him left for another school and O’Connor was left facing
three years as a back-up.
than allow himself to be rele- gated to holding a clipboard
for three years, O’Connor decided to transfer to UBC where
he would become a starter in year one. The rest, as they
say, is history.
dream is to play quarterback in the CFL, a position predominately
reserved for Americans. But there are exceptions. Brandon
Bridge started for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders last year
and is the odds-on favourite to do so again this year. And
O’Connor’s Regina Rams rival, Noah Picton, recently signed
a three-year contract with the Toronto Argonauts after going
undrafted last year.
are several examples of guys who played quarterback in university
and were converted to another position after being drafted.
The most notable is Ottawa Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli
who won the Hec Creighton Trophy in 2010 as a quarterback
for the University of Ottawa Gee Gees.
is under no illusion that he might follow in Sinopoli’s
funny you ask that,” O’Connor told the Star. “One of the
teams at the combine asked me if I would be willing to try
out as a receiver if I didn’t make it as a quarterback and
I told them you want me as your quarterback. Trust me, I
don’t have the hands to be a receiver.”
and 225 lb., O’Connor is a classic drop back passer with
an above average throwing arm and an above average football
on my knowledge of the game and my ability to read defences,”
CFL doesn’t work out for him, O’Connor could still pursue
his gridiron dreams south of the border with the new Alliance
of American Football league or the proposed XFL. But without
a doubt, Plan A is earning a spot in the CFL.
the dream,” says O’Connor.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)