Mar 25, 2012, 3:25 PM EDT
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.