Jul 24, 2014, 5:42 PM EST
Notre Dame broke the mold when they signed offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey. With a body better suited for Mike Brey’s hardwood, the Philadelphia native looked like a developmental project when he pledged his commitment to Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish.
But McGlinchey’s star has risen quickly, and when spring football arrived it was McGlinchey who was ready for the starting lineup, given the first shot to slide into the right tackle position vacated by Ronnie Stanley. It’s a sign that Harry Hiestand is ready to put his faith in McGlinchey, a key cog on an offensive line that’ll be as good as the sophomore allows.
Let’s take a closer look at Notre Dame’s starting right tackle.
6’7.5″, 300 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 68
Both Rivals and 247 saw McGlinchey as a four-star prospect. But 247 was far more bullish on McGlinchey’s future, ranking him as one of the Top 150 players in the country. With offers from Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, the datapoints are there to suggest that he was an elite recruit. But at a reported 6-foot-9, the question started to be, “Is McGlinchey too big for football?”
On Signing Day, Kelly talked about the issues, while also focusing in on the incredible athleticism McGlinchey possesses for his size.
“Mike is another young man that as he continues to grow, we worry that Mike Brey is going to take him from us,” Kelly said. “He could be 6’11” here soon, but he’s another young man that has the athleticism to play the tackle position, but he’s athletic enough that he’s played tight end. We were really impressed with the way he played basketball. He was a ferocious competitor, ran well, and is somebody that is going to continue to get stronger physically. He comes from a great high school, William Penn Charter School, just a perfect fit for us at Notre Dame, and again, on the offensive line gives us that long‑reach guy that can play the tackle position for us.”
Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.
The sky is the limit for McGlinchey, who is building a bit of a mythology before ever stepping on the field for the Irish. Multiple times, Kelly has talked about McGlinchey’s athletic ability — either throwing the football, playing basketball or having the ability to do something freakishly athletic.
All those skills are great traits to possess, but how that translate onto the football field come August 30th is all that matters. At this point, McGlinchey’s only 6-foot-7.5, not too big, and certainly checks all the elite size/athleticism boxes you could ever ask for.
But again, having the tools is far more important than having the tool box. So McGlinchey will have to prove he’s up to the task in 2014.
McGlinchey is one of the few players where you can honestly say that the season hinges upon his ability. If McGlinchey can’t cut it at right tackle, a pretty significant domino-effect is going to happen. Steve Elmer will shift to right tackle, Conor Hanratty could be the next guard in, or guys like Matt Hegarty or Colin McGovern all of a sudden get an opportunity to play on the inside, taking away some of the depth that’s been so enviable.
At this point, it’s worth looking back at the offensive linemen Kelly has taken a shot on at a young age. First was a redshirt freshman from Indiana that was plugged in at left tackle from the beginning. It worked out okay for Zack Martin. Next was Lombard, who stepped in at right tackle in 2012, when Matt Romine had a fifth year available.
Ronnie Stanley more than proved his worth in a very impressive debut campaign last year. As did Steve Elmer, who played big minutes as a true freshman. That all bodes very well for McGlinchey, who has the size, length and athleticism to do some very impressive things at right tackle.
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