Now a junior, O'Connor knows Vols

A sophomore to start the 2012 season, Michael O'Connor will be a senior next year.

The standout quarterback from Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor has accomplished enough academically to be re-classified as a junior, meaning his last season of high school football will be in 2013. Then, he'll enroll in college in 2014.

That certainly ramps up the recruitment for O'Connor. Tennessee's newly hired coaching staff under Butch Jones knows as much, which is why he has already spoken to O'Connor.

O'Connor already has a working knowledge of Jones and his staff at Tennessee. He was being recruited to Cincinnati by many of the same coaches that Tennessee hired.

"That's pretty cool seeing how he's at Tennessee now," O'Connor said of Jones.

That preexisting relationship should only work in Jones' favor as he recruits O'Connor. Cincinnati was one of the first schools to offer O'Connor a scholarship, along with Akron, Buffalo, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Toledo and Vanderbilt.

"They're a great group of coaches and I'm excited to see them turn the program around," the 6-foot-5, 205-pound prospect said.

Tennessee hasn't offered O'Connor a scholarship yet, but seems likely to do so soon.

Whenever that happens, there will likely be competition from a hated rival. Alabama has expressed strong interest in O'Connor. Crimson Tide coaches have said they want to evaluate O'Connor in person this spring before extending him a scholarship offer. O'Connor is in no hurry.

"Recruiting has been going well," O'Connor said. "I sent out my [2012] film, but most schools are saying that they're focused on finishing up their 2013 classes before they get back to underclassmen."

Those schools had better hurry. There's less time to recruit O'Connor than before.