John O’Korn is starting for the Michigan Wolverines against Michigan State on October 7 because of Wilton Speight’s injury. The 22-year-old Huntingdon, Pennsylvania native is the son of Gary and Paula O’Korn.
O’Korn started his college career at the University of Houston in 2013, but transferred to Michigan before the 2015 season. O’Korn didn’t play in the 2015 season, but played in eight games in 2016. In his two games in 2017 so far, he’s thrown 19 completions for 307 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s what you need to know about O’Korn’s parents and family.
1. O’Korn’s Parents are Gary & Paula O’Korn & Was Born in Pennsylvania
O’Korn is the son of Gary and Paula O’Korn. He was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. As the Altoona Mirror notes, he started his high school career at Huntingdon Area High School before his family moved to Florida. There, he finished his prep school career at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
O’Korn has shared on Instagram that his parents taught him to be “colorblind” when it comes to skin color. In a 2016 Instagram post with his then-roommate Maurice Ways, O’Korn wrote about how he saw Ways as his brother even though they have different skin colors.
The quarterback wrote:
This dude right here is my brother. He’s my roommate. He’s my best friend…. That’s why it kills me to see what’s going on in our country right now. I DONT GET IT. I never will. I’m so thankful that when society tried to tell me in first grade that I shouldn’t be friends with a black kid that my parents taught me to live colorblind. They taught me not to look at others through the lens of society but through the lens of progress. Tensions right now are higher than ever and only get worse with each hashtag. We NEED change. But we don’t need POLICY change. We need HEART change… In the officers whose intentions aren’t pure.. In a man in a helicopter who classifies another as “bad” simply by the color of his skin… So many of our country’s issues are rooted in our own ignorance & pride. We have this misconception that we actually understand what other people go through. But WE HAVE NO IDEA. So thankful for @_moeways and the daily conversations we have that open eyes and shatter perceptions. Conversations are everything. Elected officials aren’t going to change a thing, we are. It’s up to us…
2. O’Korn Was AAC Rookie of the Year in 2013, but Was Benched During His Sophomore Season
O’Korn’s college career got off to a great start at the University of Houston. In 13 games, he threw for 3,117 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He was named the 2013 American Athletic Conference rookie of the year. He was proving why Arkansas, Boston College, Louisville, Mississippi State, North Carolina, South Florida, Syracuse and UCF recruited him.
But during his sophomore year at Houston, he was benched. He finished the season with only 951 yards passing, six touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
“You go through some things, you get benched,” O’Korn told the Detroit Free Press in August 2017. “You’re at the top of the college football landscape, you’re getting talked about for a Heisman Trophy… and a few weeks later, you’re benched.”
In February 2015, his father confirmed to the Altoona Mirror that O’Korn was transferring to Michigan.
3. O’Korn Was the Michigan Scout Team Quarterback in 2015, When He Couldn’t Play Thanks to NCAA Rules
Thanks to NCAA transfer rules, O’Korn couldn’t play for the Wolverines. But he kept his quarterbacking skills sharp by playing on the scout team.
“As a scout team quarterback, I could kind of have (freedom to gamble),” O’Korn told MLive.com in March 2016. “I could throw a ball up into triple coverage and give a guy a chance if I wanted to. Obviously, you can’t do that when the game’s on the line or when the ball is your livelihood.”
In the 2016 season, O’Korn got back to work, appearing in eight games. He threw 20 completions for 173 yards and two touchdowns. In his two appearances in 2017, he’s already eclipsed that yardage total, with 307 passing yards on 19 completions.
In his Free Press interview in August, O’Korn credited Michigan quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton with boosting his confidence.
“He’s been a godsend for me,” O’Korn said of Hamilton, who returned to Michigan before the 2017 season kicked off. “I think he’s helped me evolve into the player, the leader and person I always knew I could be. He’s helped me get my confidence back. I feel I’m playing at the highest level I ever have right now. That’s what it’s going to take to lead this team to the things we want to do this year.”
4. O’Korn Has a ‘G’ Tattoo on His Wrist to Honor Chad & Julia Veach’s Daughter, Who Also Inspired Justin Bieber
The only tattoo O’Korn has is a “G” on the inside of his left wrist. In an interview with MGoBlue in 2016, O’Korn explained that he got it to honor his friend’s daughter Georgia. The four-year-old has a brain disorder called Lissencephaly, which was discovered after she was born.
“Her name is Georgia, and the ‘G’ is for her,” O’Korn explained to Michigan’s website. “She has a developmental brain disorder. (Doctors) told her parents, Chad and Julia Veach, who are pastors in Los Angeles, that the brain is almost completely flat. They spoke at my church in Houston a few times, and through mutual friends I got to know them.”
The Veachs have also inspired singers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez; actress Ashley Benson; and basketball players Tyson Chandler and Kevin Durant to get a “G” tattoo. Chad Veach told Michigan that he estimates about 150 friends have “G” tattoos to honor their daughter.
“John is the best,” Chad Veach told Michigan. “The church he was from in Houston, Lakewood Church (pastored by Joel Osteen), is a church we’re close to. We went there and met Johnny, who is close to their staff, and we got to hang out, get meals and spend down time together. So, we really got to know him.”
Veach later wrote Unreasonable Hope: Finding Faith in the God Who Brings Purpose to Your Plan. They told LA Parent in June 2016 that Georgia now requires a feeding tube and she regularly has seizures. Her mother left her job as a real estate investor to care for Georgia.
Chad Veach is the pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles. They also have two other children, Winston and Mavrick.
5. O’Korn Has Also Been Inspired by Larry Prout Jr., a Teenager Battling Serious Illnesses
O’Korn has also been inspired by Larry Prout Jr., a 16-year-old from Howell, Michigan. Prout has had 99 surgeries in his lifetime and is battling spina bifida, cloacal exstrophy and other serious illnesses. In October, Michigan “drafted” Prout after he became friends with O’Korn and running back De’Veon Smith. They met through Team IMPACT, a non-profit that helps children battling life-threatening illnesses.
“I love that kid,” O’Korn told Landof10.com. “There’s been times that, specifically, he’s been going through a lot of stuff this summer and he had a really tough time, battling with a lot of things. Being in the middle of a workout, a tough workout, when coaches are kicking your [behind], the thought of a strong kid like that, the strongest person I know, really, crosses your mind and you’re like, ‘I can’t even complain. Bite your tongue.’ ”
O’Korn said getting to know Prout and seeing the joy on his face whenever he attends a practice or whenever O’Korn visits him in the hospital “brightens my day.”
“It makes you appreciate what Team IMPACT and Michigan have done to forge that relationship,” O’Korn said.