Mike McGinchey

Mike McGlinchey commits, filling Irish offensive line haul

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Oh to be a Notre Dame fan three weeks ago. To listen to some, the program was lost as sea, all but forgotten by the nation’s elite players as the team veered further and further into the abyss. With Michigan accepting recruiting commitments by the half-dozen, and Urban Meyer simply waiting for ND to identify his targets, Brian Kelly and his scrappy lads were at a high stakes poker game and dealing dead without even knowing it. The end was near, and the worst part was Kelly, athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and the players didn’t even know it.

Perhaps it was for the best. If those inside the program wasted their time dealing with the worries that have plagued fans since that loss to Florida State, they’d have never put this program on the veritable roll that it is on now. In a recruiting game known mostly for momentum, the Irish seized it this weekend, picking up their third offensive line commitment in the last 36 hours with the commitment of mammoth offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, from Philadelphia.

After reeling in a stagger 159 inches of offensive linemen in Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin (standing 6-7 and 6-8 respectively), offensive line coach Harry Heistand accepted the commitment of six-foot-nine, 280-pound McGlinchey this afternoon.

McGlinchey chose the Irish over programs like Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, and Miami. He was actually on his way to visit Wisconsin when he committed to the Irish, turning around and heading back to South Bend for more time with the Irish staff before heading home. Earlier this month, it seemed McGlinchey was all but destined for Penn State, though he denied he was a heavy lean, and proved that today.

Christian McCollum of IrishSportsDaily.com was able to catch up with the offensive tackle prospect this afternoon to get an update.

“I talked it over with my dad in the car and I decided to commit to Notre Dame today,” McGlinchey told ISD. “I decided it’s the right place for me and it’s a dream come true to be able to be a member of the Notre Dame football team.”

Notre Dame told its offensive line targets that it planned on taking four linemen in the class, likely helping McGlinchey jump on board and snatch up his offer before it went somewhere else. In a span of 36 hours, the Irish essentially closed out the most important position on their recruiting boards, doing it by landing three prospects with elite offers and really impressive size. That the Irish closed both McGlinchey and McGovern this weekend — both guys that didn’t seem imminent — might put an end to the worries about Harry Hiestand the recruiter. (It’ll also put an end to those crying for the Irish to chase more “profile” recruits. With last names like McGlinchey and McGovern, how much more in profile can they get?)

What the Irish are doing with their offensive line under Brian Kelly is pretty amazing. Just a quick look at the roster shows you how they’ve transformed what they’re looking for, finding players bigger and stronger than ever before. Fifth-year centers Braxston Cave and Mike Golic, and guard Chris Watt are the only linemen shorter than six-foot-four. All three were Charlie Weis recruits. Of the linemen Kelly has brought in, only freshman Nick Martin is shorter than six-foot-five, with Matt Hegarty, who many profiled as a tackle entering college, coming in as a 6-foot-5, 290-pound center.

With a spread attack, many assumed the staff would look for smaller, athletic players to work in the system. Yet Kelly has found bigger, athletic bodies, with Tate Nichols — a converted tight end — and now a 6-foot-8, 320-pound right tackle, the first Kelly recruit in line to start. With recruits the size of Steve Elmer, McGovern, McGlinchey and Bivin (none shorter than a reported 6-foot-6), it’ll be interesting if all four end up as tackles, positions they seem perfect fits.

McGlinchey is the Irish’s sixth commitment of the 2013 class.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.

Will Fuller brings his game-changing skills to the Texans offense

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Will Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches a pass before running into the endzone for a touchdown in the second quarter in front of Avonte Maddox #14 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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In all the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, one key tidbit linking Will Fuller to the Houston Texans never seemed to come up. The relationship between Brian Kelly and Bill O’Brien.

The two coaches share a high school alma mater, a friendship that made the due diligence on Notre Dame’s prolific playmaker easy. And it was clear that after all their research, Houston was aggressive in their pursuit of Fuller, trading up to make Notre Dame’s All-American the second receiver off the board, triggered a run at the position.

“He was a guy that we felt strongly about,” Texans general manager Rick Smith told the team’s official website. “We didn’t want to take a chance on not getting him. We were aggressive. We went and made the move.”

That move made Fuller’s decision to leave Notre Dame after three seasons a good one. While it’ll require the Irish to rebuild at a position where Fuller served as one of college football’s best home run hitters, it gives Houston a vertical threat that can extend the top of a defense for a Texans offense that was serious about finding some solutions for a team already in the playoff mix.

Yes, Fuller has work to do. Completing the easy catch is one big area. But for all the pre-draft talk about his limitations, Brian Kelly took on some of the criticism head-on when talking with the Texans’ media reporter.

“Some people have compared him to Teddy Ginn, that’s not fair. He can catch the ball vertically like nobody I’ve coached in 25 years,” Kelly said (a sentiment some hack also laid out). Teddy Ginn is a very good player, but this is a different kind of player. If you throw the ball deep, he’s going to catch the football.”

Fuller is never going to be the biggest receiver on the field. But while most of the banter on his game focused on the negative or his deep ball skills, expect Fuller to find a role not just running deep but unleashed in the screen game as well. After the Texans spent huge on quarterback Brock Osweiler and have invested in fellow Philadelphia native and 2015 third-round pick Jaelen Strong, Fuller wasn’t selected for the future but rather expected to be a day-one piece of the puzzle.

“This will change the speed on offense immediately,” Kelly said. “It was not ‘Hey, let’s wait a couple of years’. It was ‘Let’s go get this right now’ and I think Will will do that for them.”