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Windsor senior changes mind about Penn State in wake of scandal

7:11 AM, Nov 12, 2011   |    comments
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He pledged to the school in June and visited the campus and coaching staff in September.

"It's surreal - sitting in a room with Coach [Joe] Paterno, you're like 'holy cow.' You can't wrap your mind around that," O'Connor said.

He says he was drawn to the school because of its storied history.

"One of my huge things was tradition and Penn State. Its tradition with Coach Paterno being there was huge, and just when I got there - it was the integrity of all the coaches," O'Connor said. "It was just an amazing university and it still is an amazing university."

O'Connor, a 6-foot-5-inch, 297-pound lineman, now says he will pursue other offers, which might still include schools such as South Carolina, Arizona, Arizona State, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, California, UCLA and Washington State.

"It's been a real struggle," O'Connor said. "Just getting all this thrown in my face just before the playoffs. The only time I can get away from it is at football practice. I only forget about it when I step on that field."

He says he's maintained a strong base of support throughout the entire ordeal.

"It's just the guys around me," he said. "My family is supporting, my coaching staff is a huge support and my teammates are a huge support me and they support me in any decision. It's just being on the field with those guys that gets me through this."

O'Connor says he has already received a number of inquiries from college coaches. Despite his decommitment, O'Connor says he might still consider Penn State.

"I'm not saying that I've completely ruled [Penn State] out, but I don't know what's going to happen there in the next couple months. The waiting and not knowing what's going to happen has been the biggest factor [in the decision]," he said.

Though several college programs are jumping back in the mix for O'Connor, who has also been invited to play in the Under Armor All-American High School football game Jan. 5, he admits to having just one team on his mind at the moment.

"Right now, I just want to get the pressure off myself, get things to loosen up a bit and try to go get a championship with my team," O'Connor said. "I am going to work and I am going to work my hardest and when it comes down to the end of the season I am going to give them my full attention."

O'Connor says he has "no clue" at this point which offers are still on the table or where he may end up.

"I'm going to keep my options open and take my four [remaining] official visits," he said.

O'Connor and his 9-1 Wizards will host Holy Family (8-2) in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs at 1 p.m. Saturday at H.J. Dudley Field.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)

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