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Jake O'Connor Senior Profile
Updated: Thursday 10/17/2011 (ET)
by TribeAthletics.com
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What is your major?
English, with an Economics minor.

Why did you choose English and Economics?
I chose English because I've always like reading and writing, so I figured I'd make a major out of it.  As far as Economics, I hope to someday get into business, so I figured I'd get some sort of business sense through the Economics minor.

Are there any particular authors or genres that you enjoy?
I've always been a big fan of Ernest Hemingway.  He's one of my favorites.  Sometimes he can get a little dense.  I took a whole class on him, and I really enjoyed it.

What about him?
Just his style of writing.  He's really descriptive, and he really paints a vivid picture when you read his works.

Is there a particular Hemingway work that really got your attention?
"Old Men and the Sea."

What one would you say is your favorite now?
I still love "Old Men in the Sea."  It's a classic for sure.  "A Farwell to Arms" is good as well. 

Do you enjoy creative writing?
I do.  Unfortunately, here I really haven't gotten to do much creative writing because the class is super-hard to get into, and it's typically during practice time.  But back in high school, I used to do a lot of creative writing.  I took some writing courses, wrote for some little publications every now and then, and potentially might continue it on later.  But as of the past couple years, I haven't really gotten to do it much.

What style would you write?
Short stories. 

Why did you decide to attend the College of William & Mary?
I chose to attend William & Mary obviously because it's a great school and to play great football.  Being from Richmond, it's in close proximately to home, so anytime I need a home-cooked meal, I can drive 45 minutes down the road and see my mother and my little brothers and get a nice meal and some laundry done.  I fell in love with it as a young kid, so it's definitely the right choice.

What other schools were you looking at?
I was looking at JMU, U of R, and the Naval Academy, along with William & Mary for football, and then if I wasn't going to pursue football, I was looking at Notre Dame and UVA.

So far, what has been your most memorable moment as a William and Mary football player?
Probably last season playing U of R.  I got my first start.  We crushed them-it was 45 to 3-which always feels good.  And then, it was actually the first game that my dad was actually able to come to because since he covers U of R, he's always traveling with them.  So he actually got to travel to the game here and watch me get my first start, so it was exciting.

Is your dad a journalist?
Yes, he's a sports journalist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Would you say that your dad's job has helped you know more about the local programs?
Definitely.  He kind of gave me the inside scoop as far as coming in-what kind of offense and defenses they've run, how the coaching staff is, and how players enjoy it.  I got an inside look, and plus, as a little kid, I came to every single one of these schools just like following him to games and stuff, so I kind of had exposure from a young age.

Were you born and raised in Richmond?
I was raised in Richmond.  As far as where I was born, I couldn't tell you.  I was actually adopted.  I actually have six younger brothers and five of us were adopted, so I really don't know where I was born.  But I was raised in Richmond.

Does that make for an interesting dichotomy at home?
Definitely.  If you saw my family, you wouldn't be able to put us together.  Both my parents are white, and I'm obviously black.  I have three black brothers and two white brothers.  So when I'm like, "This is my brother," who's 6"4' and white, people are like, "He's not your brother; I mean he's not your brother like your 'brother-brother.'"  And I'm like, "No, he's actually my brother."

What part of Richmond?
Henrico County, west end.

What ages are your brothers?
I've got my brother who just turned 21.  He went to The Apprentice School down in the Newport News.  He wrestled down there for one year, and in that year, they actually won the national championship for NAIA.  The next youngest is 18.  He's just graduated high school.  He's going to play basketball at Washington & Lee.  The next is 15.  He's about to be a sophomore in high school at Douglas Freeman.  Big cross-country runner and wrestler.  The next is 12 I guess, going into 6th grade.  He's a big diver; does like Junior Olympic diving.  And then the youngest is going into 3rd grade.

What is the most common trait of the O'Conner family?
The most common trait is athletics.  Everybody plays a sport, and the cool thing about my family is no one plays the same sport.  Obviously, I play football, and my brother, Ray, like I said, is a wrestler.  We've got Patrick playing basketball, Sam is into cross-country, Joe dives, and it looks like the youngest, Brandon, is probably going to be into soccer.  It's a good thing, too, because my family is super-competitive.  If there was a competition like who could hold their breath the longest and not die, we would have it.  I mean it's like who can finish the dinner the fastest, who can brush their teeth the quickest.  It's constant competition, so keeping us in different sports is probably a good idea.

Do have any pregame superstitions or rituals?
I guess you can call it a superstition...it's just something weird that I do, but before the game, I go to the bathroom like a thousand times.  I don't know if it's a way of getting nerves, but that's just what happens.  I'll go like 15 time while I'm changing and right before we go out.  It's kind of gross, I know.

Who outside of football has inspired you in any way?
If I had to say one person, it's probably my mother.  She's crazy...to have six kids, to be the only women in the house.  She's also a first grade teacher, so she's constantly dealing with kids at school.  So just to have kids around you all the time, and just to be the kind of person would adopt five kids, she's an incredible woman.  She's probably one of the strongest people I know, and she still terrifies me.  I'll never step out of line in front of her.  She strikes the fear of God into me, so I would definitely have to say my mother.

What are your primary interests other than football?
A lot.  I love being outdoors, obviously.  Being an athlete, I love to be active.  I also like, like I said, reading and writing.  I play the guitar on and off a little bit, kind of self-taught.

Do you have a guitar?
Yes and I tinker on it every now and then.  I'll go like a month where I'll just play constantly, and then I'll go a month where I don't even touch it.  So I'm not super-dedicated.  I wouldn't say I'm good by any means, but I can hold a tune. 

What would you consider to be you're unique gift?
I can catch food if it happens to be thrown at me; I'll catch it every time.  I love going to the Japanese steakhouse, and how they toss you the shrimp, people are always dropping it.  I never drop it.  I catch it every time.

What was your favorite summer job?
I have to say the one I did this summer, working at a sports agency.  It's something that I want to do in the future.  I've been doing a lot of stuff like client representation and then marketing.  This summer, I was working with Octagon, which is one of the biggest agencies in the world.  They have people from Michael Phelps to Apollo Anton Ohno, so like a lot of big names. 

Is that what you'd consider your goal right now for a career?
Yeah, I'd like to get into some sort of either client representation or marketing.  The representation side is kind of "skeezy."  It's a cutthroat business, so it's really tough to get into.  If you don't have a lot of money starting off or if you don't have like an inside track, it's hard to get into.  But I really do enjoy marketing.  It would be a lot easier on the mind because you don't have to worry about people stealing clients, and it's not really about the money, it's about just marketing clients well.

How do you plan to use your major?
Being an English major kind of gives me a leg up on the basic marketing major because I can read and write really effectively.  A marketing major may know the best ways to market to somebody, but they may not be able to express it through words or pictures, and that's something that I can do pretty well.  So that kind of gives a different spin, and it's definitely somebody they're looking for.

What's the most valuable lesson you thing you've learned in your two years of working inside that field?
You really have got to be ready for anything, I'd probably say.  Especially in the client representation, it's basically like organized babysitting.  You do everything from the client's financials; you pay all their bills.  If they need a hotel in Sacramento, you've got to call up hotels and get them a room.  So you're really taking care of them.  And they can call you at 3:00 in the morning and be like, "Hey, I need $200 wired to my account because I have no more money left on my credit card," and as their agent, you have to do it as best you can.  It's constantly changing, constantly evolving, and you never know what's going to happen next.  They can tweet ridiculous things, and you've got to deal with the backlash of that.  So it's a really exciting business, and it's definitely been really cool.

So you have had hands-on experience with social media going wrong with their clients?
Yeah, and one of the areas I'm working in is actually called strategic initiatives, and they actually work on finding innovative ways to market the clients through social media.  So like a Facebook, Twitter, now they're got Google+, MySpace, and all that.  It's kind of a new avenue that hasn't really been explored for athlete marketing, so that's kind of the area that I've been working in this summer, thinking of innovative ways to put our athletes out there through those venues.

After finishing up your college football career, where do you see yourself?
After I finish my football career, it's actually going to be a quick transition because I'm actually planning on graduating in December, so right after the season.  Or hopefully the season won't be done; hopefully we're going until January.  I'm hoping to get a job-trying to do this sports marketing, sports client representation thing.

What is an obstacle that you've had to overcome in your life?
My entire football experience has not come easily.  Starting out, junior year in high school, I had a pretty good year, so I started getting recruited by schools like William & Mary, the Naval Academy, JMU and little bit from UVA.  Then my senior year, third game of the season, I fractured my ankle.  I only missed one game, though.  I tried to play the rest of the season on a fractured ankle.  It probably wasn't my best decision.  I was trying to help out the team, but I didn't have the greatest season.  I actually started out here as a walk-on. My obstacle has been just kind of building myself up in the ranks and trying to get a chance to play, and as the years have gone on, I've finally gotten a chance to play, earned a half-scholarship, and this season, I'll be on full-scholarship.  So it's been a journey, to say the least, but it's been great.

What was it like when you found out that you were going to get a little money or a full scholarship?
Oh it was the greatest feeling in the world.  Especially the first meeting-I was probably more excited when I got the half-scholarship than when I was put on full-scholarship because in the back of my mind, I had always had the thought that I have one brother already going to school.  My brother, Patrick, was kind of set on going to like Washington & Lee, Hampden-Sydney, and those schools are not cheap.  I wanted to help ease the financial burden to my parents, especially having six kids.  Just finding out that I was finally going to get some sort of support and that I was kind of finally getting acknowledgement and finally had a chance to prove myself felt so good. 

What year was that?
I think it was my redshirt junior year.

You've mostly been a defensive back, mostly a safety?
I've played in the defensive backfield.  I've been strong and free [safety], and then when we bring our three-safety package in, I've also played nickel a little bit and moved down to corner every now and then.  So I've kind of bounced around everywhere on the defensive backfield and played a good number of special teams, as well.

A strength of your game has already been, would say consistency?
Definitely, I think that's probably my biggest asset.  You know what you're going to get out of me.  I do my job to best of my ability.  I'll make big play here or there, but something good that I don't do is I don't really have any major mistakes, as far as like the ball getting thrown over my head.  I think I'm pretty fundamentally sound.

What is the last thing you built from scratch?
Actually my dad decided to rebuild our deck this summer.  I come walking in the house from work, and my dad's out back knocking the deck down.  He's like, "Oh, perfect timing, you can help me rebuild this deck."  So we actually rebuilt our entire deck in two days

What is something that you've had in your room since you were a child, and why is it sentimental to you?
I've always in some manor or another had just picture of my family because family is one of the most important things to me.  I've always had some sort of family memento picture thing hanging around.

Do you do any community service work?
I do.  I've worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters here in Williamsburg and did that for a year or a year and a half, and then I kind of had decided that I was going to take a little break from it just because I was getting caught up in schoolwork.  But I had a local elementary school teacher actually call me and ask if I could come in and hang out with a special kid that they had there, so I actually ended up getting back into it after like a week of taking a break.  So I've spent the past year with him, which is really cool.  He's a fifth grader at a local elementary school.

What is something that's on your bucket list?
I've always wanted to do a European tour, just kind of travel all over Europe.  After my senior year in high school, I went to Ireland, and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. 

What is your favorite food?
Definitely my favorite food would have to be spaghetti and meatballs.  I can't turn it down.  If we could, my family would probably eat it every day.  My dad wants spaghetti and meatballs for every meal.

What about in high school?
In high school, I did a lot of different things.  I was president of our Latin club.  I was president in our Interact club, which was more like a service club.  We did like community service kind of events.  I was in Beta club, vice president in National Honor Society.  We had actually like a film club because I buddy from my school was big into film, so we actually had a film club for a couple years, so I was in that.  I lot of different things.

If you could play another sport at William & Mary, what would it be and why?
I was big into soccer when I was younger, and as I was going into middle school, I kind of had to choose soccer or football.  I ended up choosing football, which turned out to be a good decision.  But I've always loved soccer and I'd play again if I had the choice.

What animal would best describe you and why?
Well my friends will make fun of me for this because I always say a tiger because I can be intense sometimes, even though some of them would say I'm a monkey because I'm so goofy.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
I guess I'd have to say like people who talk to talk.  That's always kind of annoyed me.  I'm more a quiet guy; I kind of say things when I need to say things.  Just people who talk constantly-it kind of just gets on my nerves sometimes.  Not a lot of things bother me, really.  Being in a house with five brothers, you kind of get used to everything, so there's not too much that really gets on my nerves these days.

What is something you're afraid of?
Snakes.  Snakes terrify me.  If I see a snake, even if it's a little like one-foot garden snake, I will run and cry like a little baby.  I cannot stand snakes.  Snakes are my biggest fear for sure.

Do you have a phrase or philosophy that you live your live by?
"Do what you love; love what you do."  If you don't like something, there's no point in doing it.  I've always kind of been that sort of way. 











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