College: North Carolina State University
Height, weight, class, position: 6-3, 236, sophomore, tight end
High School: Cartersville HS in Cartersville, Georgia
About Devin O’Connor: The former Defensive Player of the Year in high school took a real risk going to NC State. With little or no interest from college football programs at any level, O’Connor still went to Raleigh to chase his dream of becoming a Division 1 college football player. And he achieved his dream while also making a position change from defense to offense. After trying out in 2012 and redshirting, O’Connor started to make an impact on the scout team in 2013 and was rewarded with action in nine games on special teams. Later in the year he saw snaps in two games at tight end. The prior to camp this fall, the incoming President of the NC State Chapter, was rewarded with a full scholarship. Recently, O’Connor was recognized as a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll for 2013.
As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?
O’CONNOR: I would say my favorite part about the NC State game day experience is the walk of champions once we arrive at the stadium. Sometimes as a player, I get too caught up in the stress of executing my job on the field that I forget that I am playing a game that I have loved since I was a young child. Witnessing the love and support of the fans reminds me of the reasons I love football. My stress and nerves disappear at this moment and I am ready to play.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?
O’CONNOR: I believe that I was given the opportunity to play at NC State for a reason. As a Division 1 football player, you have a platform of influence. Unfortunately, there is a lot negative influence that is seen on the news from football players lately. I want to use my platform for good. Uplifting Athletes is a wonderful opportunity for positive influence. Raising awareness for rare diseases may save someone’s life one day. That is more rewarding than anything that I will accomplish on the field.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
O’CONNOR: My most memorable moment as a college football player is when [NC State head coach Dave Doeren] rewarded me a scholarship this past summer. I tried out for the team two years ago my freshman year. Many people didn’t think that I would be able to accomplish my dream of playing D1 football. I even questioned myself during many stages of my journey. Receiving the scholarship was proof to me that God rewards those who remain faithful and work hard. I will never forget that moment.
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?
O’CONNOR: Florida State is the most difficult team that I’ve played. They are very fast.Their speed is on another level compared to other teams that we play. Florida State has very talented athletes in every position on the field. You have to bring you’re “A” game for them every time.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
O’CONNOR: I am in the Textile school studying Brand management and marketing. I am fairly new to Uplifting Athletes but hopefully I can bring some effective marketing strategies for the NC State Chapter.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
O’CONNOR: Even though he is in some trouble right now, I love watching [Georgia running back]Todd Gurley play. He is a very explosive and fun player to watch.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
O’CONNOR: My favorite road stadium to play in is Death Valley at Clemson. It is a very hostile environment and it forces your team to be tight and together if you want to be successful. It is also two hours from my home in Georgia so much of my family is able to come watch me play.
In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?
O’CONNOR: I am a very adventurous guy. I love the outdoors and do much backpacking and camping when I have time. Honestly, after college I plan on travelling around the US and Canada seeing natural wonders like Yosemite Valley, Zion National Park, Glacier National Park, and maybe complete the Appalachian Trail. I want to go wherever the wind takes me living only off the things I can carry on my back or in my car. I am really excited for all aspects of what the future holds. I am completely open to whatever God wants for me. I have already witnessed a taste of what it is like to trust in this because of where I am today playing for NC State with so many great opportunities in front of me. I know that there will be many hard times, but I believe it’s all in the outlook. I try to take on everyday like its my last, so if I wake up the next morning I am simply grateful for the fact that I am given another opportunity to live. With this outlook, nothing can keep you down for long.