After transferring from Ohio State to Colorado State last spring as a redshirt freshman, former Windsor High School football standout Joey O’Connor’s college football career may be over, according to Rams coach Jim McElwain.
During his end-of-the-season press conference Tuesday, McElwain said O’Connor, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound offensive lineman, likely will retire from football because of knee problems.
“I don’t know that Joey is going to be back with us,” McElwain said. “He had that pretty significant knee problem.”
McElwain alluded that the decision to retire will ultimately be up to O’Connor.
“There is some question in his mind as to, ‘You know what? Do I want to risk this? Or do I want to (one day) be able play catch with my kid,’” McElwain said. “Those are all things that — in this game and in a lot of games — that you deal with mentally. So, I think his playing days are probably done.”
O’Connor could not be reached for comment because of McElwain’s policy of first-year players in the program not talking to the media. O’Connor, 19, helped Windsor to a Class 3A state title in 2011. He hasn’t played a down of football in two seasons.
In high school, the 2012 Windsor graduate was highly recruited, initially committing to Penn State before signing with Ohio State.
He was a four-star prospect, a top 150 prospect nationally, a member of Under Armour’s All-American class in 2012 and an All-Colorado nominee in 2010 and 2011.
He initially injured his knee during preseason drills at Ohio State in 2012, undergoing surgery before entering a redshirt year.
He transferred to CSU this past February, telling The Tribune he had a desire to be closer to his home and his family.
“When I really decided to make my decision was when I came back (to Colorado) after Christmas break, being back with my family really made me realize that I needed to be closer to home and closer to my support mechanism,” said O’Connor in a telephone interview at the time. “My priority is my family, and being closer to them is really what I need to do. I guess I’m a Colorado guy at heart. It’s a change that I needed to make, and a change that I’m excited to make.”
At CSU, O’Connor again had a surgical procedure on his knee while sitting out the required transfer year this past fall.
“(The knee) wasn’t totally well when he got here, so we went back in,” McElwain said.
The Rams were the first Division I program to offer O’Connor a full-ride scholarship nearly three years ago.
“Joey is a great kid, and I would take him again,” he said. “There isn’t one thing I would do differently.”
McElwain said he will “wait and see” if O’Connor will continue to have a role within the Rams’ program.
“I’m here for what’s best for him and what he wants to do,” said McElwain, who added, he believes O’Connor plans on staying in school.