QB Danny O'Neil connects with Coach Prime, commits to Colorado: 'It checks every box.'
Danny O’Neil was not planning on committing to Colorado going into his weekend visit, a second trip to Boulder. But after spending time with the coaching staff, including extended time with new coach Deion Sanders, O’Neil was ready to make it final.
“I just feel like it’s a place where I can come in, I know the offense and like the coaches and feel like I can come in early and play,” said O’Neil, the Cathedral junior. “It’s obviously a beautiful city and beautiful place to live for four years. And they have a pretty good business school, which is what I’m planning on majoring in. It checks every box.”
O’Neil, rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports and the No. 5 overall prospect in the state in the class, intends to start recruiting across the county for the Buffaloes and “Coach Prime”, who O’Neil had talked with over FaceTime on his previous visit to Boulder. This time, O’Neil was able to spend plenty of time with the 55-year-old NFL Hall of Famer, who made his name as a flashy lockdown cornerback and punt returner with the nickname “Prime Time.”
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But O’Neil said Sanders personality is serious when it comes to coaching. He led Jackson State to a three-year record of 27-6, including a 12-1 mark last season.
“He’s very serious about what his mission is,” O’Neil said. “I was around him a lot more than I was around any other head coach on any of my other visits. He’s very competitive and just wants the best for his guys. He was taking a lot of time during the practices that I saw to coach guys up, which I thought was pretty cool because he’s been there and done that. He has a gold jacket for a reason. He expects greatness out of his coaches and players and that’s something I gravitated towards I think. He has some moxie to him and I like that about him.”
O’Neil completed 62.9% of his passes as a junior for 2,654 yards and 32 touchdowns for a Cathedral team that reached the Class 6A semistate. For his high school career, he has 5,718 passing yards and 67 TDs and 604 rushing yards and 19 TDs.
Former Kent State coach Sean Lewis is the new offensive coordinator at Colorado. O’Neil said the connection with Lewis was also a major reason he committed to the Buffaloes over Kentucky, Illinois, Northwestern and Louisville. He also took recent visits to Michigan State and Miami (Fla.) and believed both schools were close to offering.
“He is a big fan of the offensive coordinator (former Kent State coach Sean Lewis),” Cathedral coach Bill Peebles said. “I think everything going on there with coach Sanders is about putting in work and earning your spot. I think that really appealed to Danny. He is a worker and I think he’s excited for that challenge.”
While on his visit, O’Neil sat in on team meetings and quarterback meetings.
“It was Day One stuff, base foundation stuff, but I was familiar with a lot of it from the offense we run at Cathedral,” said O’Neil, who added he might not be playing right away after arriving but would have a chance to compete early in his career for playing time.
O’Neil said there is a chance he could graduate early and arrive on campus in January after his senior season, but those details still need to be worked out. O’Neil figures to be on the list of Mr. Football candidates going into the season. He can continue working on tuning up for the season knowing his college situation is figured out several months in advance.
“When I was there it felt like home,” he said. “I think everything works out for a reason. The coaches made a great impression and took care of me and my mom. Everything that we talk about after every visit, like I said, it checked all the boxes.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: 2024 QB Danny O'Neil connects with Coach Prime, commits to Colorado