April 6, 2020

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Diamond in the Rough: Connor O’Hara

Connor O’Hara is a class of 2021 quarterback out of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX. O’Hara stands at 6’1 175lbs, with a 40 yard dash of 4.9. O’Hara is great under center and thrives in play-action. Outside of play action, Connor has great delivery after the three step drop and shows excellent accuracy on the run as well. Out the gun, O’Hara shows the same quick release as well as being an underrated runner when forced outside the pocket. A well-rounded shot caller who shows great promise this season, O’Hara’s hard work is not limited to the practice field, but the classroom as well, boasting a 3.85 GPA and an SAT of 1140. Connor was kind enough to take time out of his day to spend time talking about his football career and what is in store for the future.

How did you get into the sport of football and around what age were you when you first began playing? 

I’m not sure exactly what age I was because football has been a part of my life since I can remember. So needless to say I was very young when I first put on a helmet and pads. I have always had a deep love and passion for the sport, and it’s something that is an integral part of who I am. 

Being that you began playing so young, what are some takeaways or lessons that the sport instilled in you from the very beginning of your playing days? 

The first thing that became apparent was the sheer amount of hard work that goes into the sport. Even at the pee-wee level and grade school levels the amount of training that goes in is at a really high level. That sort of work ethic is something that carries over well into your high school career, and also in facets of your life outside of football. Another thing I really appreciate is the respect you garner for your teammates. Forming bonds with those guys can last a lifetime, and it’s just something that you never forget. 

Speaking of that sort of hard work at a young age, how did you approach that adversity so early on in your career?

I know it’s said all the time and may sound cliche, but the motto of “if you get knocked down, get back up” really does apply. You have no choice. In football you’ll face countless instances of adversity, but it’s how you respond and overcome that which molds you into the player you ultimately want to become. 

When looking at yourself and evaluating yourself as a quarterback, what are some words or ways to describe your style of play?

I consider myself an athletic, pro-style quarterback. I love dropping back in the pocket from center on passing plays and can really sell the play action fake. You could also say I show the qualities of a dual-threat QB as well. I have very little problems running outside of the pocket and lowering my shoulder when needed to pick up much needed yardage.

Now considering your style of play, what are some calls or schemes in which you think you strive in or that you consider to be your favorite?

Really anything with four or five routes installed into the play. To me, one of the funnest parts of playing the quarterback position is having all those receivers out there and going through each one of your progressions. Recognizing and capitalizing on the correct reads is one of the most satisfying feelings you can have as a quarterback. 

With the off-season upon you, what are some steps you are taking to improve upon your game?

One part of it is making sure you’re attending as many camps as possible during the off-season. Taking notes and studying, whether that’s at camps, practice, or even in my own free time are vital in ensuring that I’m taking the right steps in improving my football IQ. I’ve also found that reading books on the sport have helped me in my development as well. 

You mention studying and taking notes, are there any current or former quarterbacks that you enjoy studying and incorporating their skill sets into your playstyle?

Growing up a Peyton Manning fan I always admired and studied his playstyle as an extremely prolific passer. Nowadays, I look to guys like Lamar Jackson and focus on his explosiveness. In today’s NFL you can see how being effective in both the pass and run has changed the landscape of the game. 

Now that you are playing at the college prep level, can you walk me some of the differences you have experienced from standard high school football in Texas?

The level of competition is a drastic change. Prep schools are so much larger so you have a much bigger pool of talent to choose from. There are athletes everywhere and each position is loaded with talent. Playing at this level has definitely increased my skills and knowledge of the game because the level of competition is so high you have to be at your absolute best, day-in and day-out. 

Have your personal goals changed at all once you made the move to the prep level? Can you also tell me a bit about the achievements your team has set for themselves for the 2020 season?

I believe that no matter the level you play at your personal goals should always focus on being the best athlete you can be. I’m extremely focused on leading district in passing for the upcoming season and I’ve set a rushing goal for myself of 800 yards. As for the team, we believe the ultimate goal is always a State Championship. It is important to us to strive for greatness and push the boundaries farther than our team has ever gone before. 

In your opinion what do you believe is the most difficult aspect of playing the quarterback position?

Realizing that nothing can ever be all about you. Yes, you are in a leadership position with a lot of responsibilities, but you can never forget that this is a team game and we all have to be one cohesive unit. Getting caught up in personal things like stats or my performance can negatively impact not only me, but my teammates as well. 

Speaking of being in a leadership role, what are some responsibilities that you feel are most vital to ensuring success for your team?

Being extremely vocal, for one. The quarterback position is not one for those who are timid or have a hard time communicating. Leading by example is an absolute must in order to keep everyone focused and maintaining a positive attitude. 

If a coach or recruiter were to decide between you and another player at your position, what is something you would tell them that separates you from the pack?

I believe what sets me apart is just how coachable I am. I believe in the importance of facing all aspects of the game as a learning opportunity and feel its critical in taking what my coaches have to say and really applying it into practice. I believe my ceiling is very high in regards to the athlete I know I can become. 

When considering college and potentially playing at the next level, what are some characteristics in a school that you look for?

First and foremost you are a student first, so choosing a place that puts a big emphasis on education is extremely important. With that I’d look for a university that can provide me with the tools to pursue a large number of careers once my playing career is over. Also, I’d love for a university that offers good coaching potential, because if I never get the opportunity to play at the next level I would love to get into that profession and surround myself in the sport further. 

You mention education and career options, so what are you planning on studying once in college? Where do your interests lie?

Business, but more specifically entrepreneurship. I would love to one day create a job, company, or brand that fully embodies who I am as a person. 

Outside of football, are there any other sports that you would be interested in trying?

Well, next year I’m actually going to be playing both baseball and basketball at my school. You never know when an opportunity may arise in another sport so I believe it to be a good idea to expand upon my world of sporting opportunities.

Finally, what do you enjoy doing in your free time when not playing or practicing sports?

First, I really enjoy spending time in the community as part of our school’s service hour requirements. It’s a great way to help you stay grounded and realize the truly important and impactful things in life. Getting involved like that keeps your head level. Outside of that, I’m really just focused on being a typical high schooler and living a normal teenage life. I realize these moments won’t last forever and I’d like to appreciate this time in my life while it’s here.