Michigan has started QB Wilton Speight, but a Saturday injury in the Purdue game could mean an opportunity for backup John O’Korn.
Here’s what you need to know about O’Korn.
John O’Korn was a state champion at Florida state power
O’Korn is originally from Huntingdon, Pa., about 30 miles south of the Penn State campus in State College, but played in high school at famed St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The school’s football program has an alumni list that includes All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as Cincinnati teammate Giovani Bernard, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers and Marcus Gilbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
O’Korn led St. Thomas Aquinas to a Class 7A state championship as a senior by throwing for 2,552 yards, 22 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. He accounted for 434 yards of offense (339 passing, 95 rushing) and four touchdowns in a 41-25 victory against Tallahassee Lincoln.
John O’Korn has been to top, down to bottom, and back
O’Korn was considered a 3-star recruit coming out of high school but he was a 5-star player for the University of Houston his freshman season. He started 11 of 13 games for the Cougars after an injury sidelined starter David Piland. O’Korn responded by throwing for 3,117 yards, the second-highest total by a freshman in program history. He set freshman records by completing 259 passes and throwing 28 touchdowns. O’Korn was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year and was selected third-team Freshman All-American by Athlon Sports.
Things weren’t so rosy the next season. He lost his job to Greg Ward, and a change in coaching staffs helped lead to his decision to transfer. O’Korn chose Michigan after Jim Harbaugh was hired as head coach and was expected to earn the No. 1 job after sitting out one season because of NCAA transfer rules. That didn’t happen. Wilton Speight beat him and Shane Morris out last season.
O’Korn, Speight and redshirt freshman Brandon Peters were in a three-way race at the start of preseason camp.
John O’Korn has a social media presence
O’Korn is pretty solid on the Twitter front. He got on rival Michigan State fans who had a problem at last summer’s Real Madrid-Chelsea soccer match at Michigan Stadium.
— JOK (@JohnOKorn) July 31, 2016
He’s also been supportive of other Michigan athletes and social causes.
What they don't talk about on the news pic.twitter.com/0dWBmhBkhF
— JOK (@JohnOKorn) May 31, 2017
John O’Korn is a friend to to toughest Wolverine
O’Korn was one of the key figures in building the relationship between the Wolverines and Larry Prout Jr. O’Korn and former U-M running back De’Veon Smith bonded with the teenager from Howell, Mich., through Team IMPACT in 2016. Prout has undergone nearly 100 surgeries for a variety of chronic illnesses. Last October, Prout signed a national letter of intent to join Michigan in a ceremony at Schembechler Hall. O’Korn is a frequent visitor to the Mott Children’s Hospital, volunteering his time and efforts.
Just win, baby
O’Korn’s statistical numbers against Indiana last season were anything but eye-popping, but the bottom line was he came in and helped lead Michigan to a crucial victory. Speight was hurt. O’Korn hadn’t gotten many practice reps with the first unit during the season, and blustery weather conditions didn’t help matters. He completed just 7 of 16 passes for 59 yards but he didn’t turn the ball as the Wolverines bounced back from a loss at Iowa the previous week with a 20-10 win. That set up a showdown in Columbus against Ohio State.