During his high school career at Pottsgrove, Madison O'Connor was a run-blocking road grader.
Last fall, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound tackle honed his skills as a pass protector during a postgrad year at The Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn.
And later this year, O'Connor is hoping that total package will serve him well as he embarks on his college career.
O'Connor, a Class AAA all-state selection in 2012, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Gardner-Webb University and play football for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
"When I went down there for a visit, I loved everything about it,' O'Connor said of the Gardner-Webb campus, located in Boiling Springs, N.C. "I got along with the players, and all the coaches were absolutely great right from the start. The best thing was that it kind of reminded me of the Pottsgrove tradition: they are dead-set on winning, and everyone's in it together.'
O'Connor, who plans to major in Pre-med, was also recruited by Boston College, Kent State, Hawaii, Rutgers, Temple and Pittsburgh as a senior.At Canterbury School, he saw time on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Saints and also wrestled as a heavyweight.
"The most important improvement was in my pass-blocking,' O'Connor said. "We didn't really pass that much at Pottsgrove, but it was more like 55-45 (run-pass ratio) at Canterbury, and that really let me set up my pass-blocking skills instead of run blocking.'
O'Connor helped Pottsgrove win a combined 22 games as a junior and senior. He was rated a two-star prospect by the recruiting website 247Sports.com. A two-time PAC-10 first team pick, he helped the Falcons rush for 4,576 yards and 59 touchdowns during his junior year.
"Madison has great size and is a young man who fills an immediate need for us on the offensive line,' Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray said on the school's website. "We needed to sign another tackle in this class and we are confident we added someone who can help us move the football.'
Gardner-Webb is coming off a 7-5 season in 2013, the program's highest win total since the 2003 campaign. Among those wins were three over programs ranked in the NCAA Division I FCS top-25 and another over eventual Southern Conference champion and FCS playoff participant Furman. The Runnin' Bulldogs compete in the NCAA Division I FCS Big South Conference.
O'Connor will likely compete for a right tackle spot on the Gardner-Webb offensive line, but he did play every O-Line position except for center in his postgrad season.
"I'm pretty excited,' he said. "I'm just ready to open a new chapter of my life.'
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD