Conor O'Neill is one of the top linebacker prospects in South Florida this year and the St. Thomas…
Quality and Quantity
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - With Wisconsin losing two linebackers after the 2009 season, the importance and earnestness of the Badgers to find and add quality linebackers to the Class of 2010 has never been more important than it is right now. Aquinas' Conor O'Neill is well aware of the Badgers' situation, which is one of the reasons the Badgers are in his top three schools. "I definitely love Wisconsin and they are one of my top schools," O'Neill told Badger Nation. "Coach Partridge has been at our school and came in the spring. We have some conversations along with Coach Doeren and they told me that they like the speed that I play at and the love that I have for the game. He loves my athleticism and how I catch the ball. Those are some of the few things he said." The other two schools that are in his two three are Auburn, a school that O'Neill has camped at and is taking an official visit to on September 19, and Clemson. O'Neill also has offers from Miami (OH), Purdue, Rutgers and Syracuse. Playing in a 4-3 defense very similar to what Wisconsin runs, O'Neill made 67 tackles (second best on the team), seven sacks, 16 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. Officially offered on March 17 by Wisconsin, O'Neill is saving his first visit to Madison for the weekend of October 4 for when Wisconsin hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes. "Definitely that game is intriguing and we're trying to work out the final details," O'Neill said of his official visit. "Honestly, just going up to Wisconsin is a great opportunity because they are a great team year in and year out. Now with them playing Ohio State, one of the best teams that they play and a national game that catches everybody's eyes, that being one my first college games that I go to is just incredible, knowing that I am going to experience that environment." When asked what intrigued him about the school and the program, Wisconsin's reputation as a top academic institution was one of the big positives O'Neill had heard about Wisconsin's state school. "Academics are going to play a big roll and Wisconsin has great academics and a great engineering program," he said. "They are one of the leading academic schools. Playing time is nice but I don't expect much as a freshman. I wouldn't mind playing five years." O'Neill also cited that Auburn and Clemson have a good football tradition at their schools and constantly bring in good players from high school. Where the two southern schools have a leg up on Wisconsin in terms of recruiting O'Neill is the junior has a huge love of baseball. Hitting .321 with six home runs, six doubles, two triples and 16 stolen bases, O'Neill was an All-County selection for Aquinas' baseball team and wants to try and play baseball at the college level, a sport that Wisconsin does not offer. "I would like to play baseball in college but it's not something I have to do. It's just one of my goals," O'Neill said. "I would really like to be a two-sport athlete. It definitely would be nice if I could do it, but I know it's going to hard being a freshman playing two sports, especially big-time college football and juggling a baseball career. If a school lets me do that it definitely opens my eyes. Wisconsin doesn't have a baseball team, but I still see them equal with the other two." With a month away from his first official visit and two months from his next, O'Neill has some time to ponder his decision. Although he would like to do it before the off season, O'Neill realizes that scholarships are going fast but still wants to make the right decision at the right time. "At first, I wanted to commit after the season but now that I think about it, a lot of kids are committing now so that limits the number of scholarships that are going to be open," he said. "I want to go through the whole recruiting process, taking all my official visits and make sure when I commit, I am binding to that school and I am not rushing into it for the sake of rushing into it."
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