Scott Porter: What do you feel are your biggest strengths on the football field?
Mike O’Connell: I believe my strengths are being a smart, tough, physical football player. With that I believe I change direction well and have always had pretty good ball skills coming into college as a receiver. (This was hard to show this season b/c I wore a cast on my left thumb all season). I am also versatile on the field as I have played FS and a Nickel/Hybrid Safety position while also contributing on all four special teams and returning punts throughout my career.
Scott Porter: You come from a very successful high school football program, how did coach Chuck Evans at Regina help you reach your goals of becoming a college football success?
Mike O’Connell: He instilled that drive and hunger to be successful and competitive. We didn’t like to lose in high school and with that mindset everyone in the program was trying to be the best they could be to help the team win, and I think more than anything that is what I carried with me as I moved on to college football. I didn’t know how to do it any other way then to work, work, work.
Scott Porter: What type of a person is an NFL team getting in Mike O’Connell?
Mike O’Connell: If they look at my track record they will see that I am a guy that is going to do anything to help the team win games. I will do things the right way and I will give it everything I have. I will be selfless, all-in and committed 24/7. I also know how to keep fighting when adversity strikes. I have had to work my way up from starting as a walk-on and playing for 3 different head coaches throughout my college career. Adversity is the norm for me.
Scott Porter: What hobbies do you have off the field?
Mike O’Connell: I love reaching out and speaking to people about my faith and trying to instill belief in others to never give up on their dreams no matter what their circumstances may look like. I also enjoy Fellowship of Christian Athletes, working out, listening to music, watching sports, occasionally fishing and relaxing when I have some free time. I’m a laid back guy.
Scott Porter: You are part of a rare Iowa State class that has beaten both Nebraska and Texas, something they had not accomplished for years, what does that mean to the program and yourself?
Mike O’Connell: First off, those two wins were amazing experiences, especially because both of those wins were on the road. Secondly, it’s a special feeling being able to share those wins with such great teammates and coaches. In both of those wins, the guys standing in the locker room were the only people that believed we could win those football games. Being a part of those experiences is as fun as it gets in college football when the odds are stacked up against you and you come out with a W. Those wins are huge for our program as it helps bring back excitement in the program, and it also helps in recruiting.
Scott Porter: What do you feel is the toughest part about playing college football?
Mike O’Connell: Being able to balance school, football and all of the other activities I was involved in. Time management is huge at this level because you can’t just solely focus on football or else you will fall behind in all of the other areas.
Scott Porter: What are your goals as far as football goes?
Mike O’Connell: I want to continue playing professionally. I still have passion for the game of football and I think I can continue to improve as I go forward.
Scott Porter: When thinking about life after football, what do you see yourself doing?
Mike O’Connell: I have been thinking about that a lot lately, and I am not sure. I know my future lies in coaching or business after football. I will continue to network and do some soul searching to find out what it is that allows me to live out my faith and impact lives, which is ultimately what I want to do.