CFL and NFL teams travel to UBC pro day for up-close look at Canadian QB Michael O’Connor

Photo credit: Mathieu Bélanger
Photo courtesy: Mathieu Bélanger

Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor has caught the attention of teams from both sides of the border.

The University of British Columbia held a pro day on Thursday with O’Connor as the main attraction. The Seattle Seahawks made the trip to campus while several other NFL teams requested film from the workout. Edmonton Eskimos head coach Jason Maas took in the session live and the hometown B.C. Lions had a representative in attendance.

It was the second workout of the week in front of pro scouts for O’Connor, who threw at the NFL International Player Pathway Pro Day held at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training facility on April 1 in front of scouts from all 32 NFL teams.

O’Connor attended the CFL combine from March 22 to 24, interviewing with six of the nine teams, and played in the FCS Bowl during the month of December, completing 9-of-12 passes for 70 yards and has been training at IMG Academy in Florida. The Ottawa native has prototypical quarterback size: six-foot-five, 225 pounds and has been productive wherever he’s played.

During his high school years, O’Connor threw 51 touchdown passes in Grade 10 at Ashbury College, attended Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee and moved on to play at IMG Academy in Florida under the tutelage of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Weinke. He led the team to an 8-2 record in 2013 throwing for 1,804 yards and 18 touchdowns in 10 games. He was the No. 6 ranked high school quarterback by ESPN and played in the Under Armour All-American Game, the only Canadian prospect to be invited that year.

Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, who spent time as Tom Brady’s quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, recruited O’Connor and wanted him to play in his pro-style offence. But before O’Connor arrived on campus, O’Brien left the Nittany Lions to accept the Houston Texans head coaching job.

James Franklin took over as head coach and Christian Hackenberg was the starter until he was picked in the second round by the New York Jets in the 2016 NFL draft. Despite O’Connor going 11-for-16 for 81 yards in Penn State’s spring game, he redshirted in 2014 and then transferred to the University of British Columbia. Year one with the Thunderbirds saw O’Connor light up defences while leading the team to a National Championship in 2015.

O’Connor has been seen by many teams from both sides of the border raising his stock on NFL and CFL draft boards.