How the worst defense in the MAC has three profiles on our Top 70 Countdown is somewhat a mystery, but it's all well-deserved for them. Pat O'Connor is arguably the best athlete on Eastern Michigan's defense, but he's easily one of the best leaders on the team.
O'Connor, a versatile defensive lineman, is a Chicago native that's played in every game since his freshman year in 2012. After recording 60 tackles in his first two seasons, O'Connor was elected as a team captain as a junior.
Exceeding expectations, the 6-foot-4, 257 pound O'Connor earned First Team All-MAC honors after recording 7.5 sacks to lead the conference, 47th nationally. He was fifth on the team with 64 total tackles with 14 tackles for loss (fourth in the MAC) for 73 yards lost, and even recorded a forced fumble in both of EMU's wins over Morgan State and Buffalo last season. The EMU media guide only dates this back to 1998, but he's six sacks behind Kevin Howe (2003-06) in total career sack leaders in EMU history.
Heading into 2015, O'Connor has some expectations to live up to: not only from the local media outlets, but from those around the nation as well. He's a preseason First Team All-MAC pick by both Athlon and Phil Steele, tabbed on the watch lists for both Nagruski Trophy and Lombardi Award, and is a legitimate prospect for NFL teams after he completes his senior season.