Irish A-to-Z: Mike McGlinchey

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Notre Dame has another star at left tackle, with Mike McGlinchey following in the footsteps of first rounders Zack Martin and Ronnie Stanley. With the nasty disposition of Martin and the athletic traits of Stanley, McGlinchey has the promise to be the best one yet for Harry Hiestand—and that’s saying something.

Of course, doing it is the next step.

For all the accolades that’ll be heaped on McGlinchey this preseason, he’s just a 14-game starter who’ll be playing his first football at left tackle. But paired with Quenton Nelson on the left side of center, the physically dominant duo has the ability to impact the game like few other blocking combos, two giants that match up physically with the best duos playing on Sundays.

 

MIKE MCGLINCHEY
6’7.5″, 310 lbs.
Senior, No. 68, OT

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star prospect, McGlinchey played in the Semper Fidelis All-Star game. A Top 150 prospect on 247 and Scout, McGlinchey had offers from Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and a handful of others before picking Notre Dame. He was first-team All-State, All-City and All Southeastern PA.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in all 13 games before replacing Christian Lombard at right tackle against USC. Started against LSU in the Music City Bowl.

Junior Season (2015): Started all 13 games at right tackle, grading out as Notre Dame’s No. 1 offensive player on PFF College with a +23.2 rating. That ranking was the highest of any right tackle in the country.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Nailed it.

I’m all in on McGlinchey, who I think has a ceiling equal to Ronnie Stanley’s, who some are predicting (way too early, I might add) could be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. That’s high praise for a guy with exactly one start, but deserving when you consider all the tremendous attributes that come along with McGlinchey’s game.

But here’s what we don’t know: How quickly will McGlinchey get comfortable in the starting lineup? Because he’ll be protecting the blindside of a young quarterback, one who has a propensity to run. That could make McGlinchey susceptible to speed rushers—already tough enough when you’re long and inexperienced—and could keep him from locking in his mechanics, something that forced Elmer to slide inside.

There’s no room for a 6-foot-8 guard, and McGlinchey’s future (both in college and at the next level) is at tackle. So while it’s a bit of a reach, there’s elite potential in McGlinchey, and I’m expecting him to show it off this season, creating another stay-or-go scenario for an offensive lineman in 2016.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

I already compared McGlinchey’s ceiling to Ronnie Stanley’s last year after one career start, and I wasn’t surprised when Stanley was a Top 10 pick. That’s the scenario for McGlinchey this season—play well and you’ll be viewed as another franchise cornerstone at offensive tackle in the upcoming draft, or return to South Bend for a fifth year.

McGlinchey has a mauler’s disposition and size and skills that could be more freakish than Stanley’s. It’s hard to find more superlatives for the Philadelphia native. So future potential? As close to unlimited as possible.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I expect All-American honors for McGlinchey, who took about two practices to convince Brian Kelly and Hiestand that he’s talented enough athletically to make the transition to left tackle seamlessly. As one of the nation’s premier run blockers already, all that’s needed is a smooth transition against speed rushers, something McGlinchey should handle just fine with his length and athleticism.

McGlinchey will earn his degree this spring, meaning a fifth year likely isn’t in the cards if he’s weighing a first-round grade. And while we can look back on a season spent on the bench in 2014 behind Steve Elmer and Christian Lombard, two frontline seasons in South Bend could be enough to cement McGlinchey’s legacy as the next great tackle coming out of Notre Dame—and if he stays around for 2017 it’d be gravy.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska

Recruiting trail keeps rolling with Louisiana WR Michael Young

Irish247
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It may still only be mid-July, but Notre Dame’s recruiting class looks in midseason form. Wednesday, Louisiana wide receiver Michael Young became the latest 2017 target to jump on board, picking the Irish over finalists Oregon and Texas A&M.

Young is the 17th member of an Irish class that doesn’t have much room left. He’s a three-star prospect, but was a priority target for Notre Dame’s staff at the slot receiver spot. Young made the announcement official on Twitter, posting:

“Once again I would like to thank all the schools that gave me the opportunity to continue my career at the next level. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and coaches for being by my side and helping me through this process. It was a tough decision, but I’m proud to announce that I’ve committed to the University of Notre Dame!”

Young visited Notre Dame for the Irish Invasion camp in June, a trip that had a huge impact on both he and his family. While both Oregon and Texas A&M had momentum at various times during his recruitment, position coach Mike Denbrock and area recruiter Autry Denson sealed the deal.

Also helping the Irish’s case was opportunity. With just CJ Sanders and Corey Holmes profiling as slot receivers, there’s a need at the Z, where the 5-foot-10 Young profiles. He’s the second receiver commitment in the class—Jordan Pouncey also visited South Bend for the Irish Invasion—with Notre Dame continuing to chase some national targets.

 

 

Irish A-to-Z: Jacob Matuska

Irish247 / Tom Loy

After being buried on the defensive line depth chart, Jacob Matuska spent the spring transitioning to tight end, hopeful that he can replicate the impact fellow defensive lineman Chase Hounshell had in his transition across the line of scrimmage. There’s reason for optimism. Matuska was an All-State performer at the position in his high school days. He’s also a 275-pounder who won’t look out of place lined up next to an offensive tackle.

Finding a role with Tyler Luatua back on the roster might be tough. But Luatua’s inconsistency last season will make this an open battle. While 15 practices aren’t enough to master a spot, expect a training camp battle for specialty snaps in an Irish offense that should want to pound the football.

 

JACOB MATUSKA
6’4.5″, 275 lbs.
Senior, No. 89, TE

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Recruited to play 3-4 defensive end, Matuska committed to Notre Dame early on, a three-star prospect with offers from Michigan, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Ohio State didn’t offer, but he profiled quite nicely as a big skill and power recruit, with Brian Kelly noting his positional versatility on Signing Day.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

Sophomore Season (2014): Played in seven games, starting his first against USC. Saw the majority of his snaps in the season’s final three games, forced into action after injuries to Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones and Daniel Cage. Had five tackles against Louisville including a sack. Had six total tackles on the season.

Junior Season (2015): Made one appearance, making a single tackle against UMass.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Pretty close, though I didn’t see a single appearance in the cards.

Matuska still feels like an emergency option to me, though he’ll hardly be as green as the guy we saw learning on the fly last season. Give him credit for a nice performance against Louisville, though a stinger in his shoulder robbed him of performing better moving forward, not exactly great luck considering he was still drinking from the fire hydrant.

But if you’re looking for a datapoint that shows how far this program has come since the Weis era, Matuska certainly can be one. Notre Dame didn’t have 295-pound defensive tackles on their third string back then, they were starting.

That doesn’t look like a reality for Matuska unless things go haywire. And even then, he’ll have to compete with Jerry Tillery, Jay Hayes, Daniel Cage and Peter Mokwuah to get on the field.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

The move to tight end pretty much solidified the belief that Matuska wasn’t going to crack the two-deep on a defensive line that is unproven but talented. So after watching Chase Hounshell find a niche on last year’s team, the fact that Matuska gets a shot to do the same thing—after being a very accomplished high school tight end—means there’s hope for some more position change magic for Brian Kelly.

That said, the ceiling for success should be modest. With Tyler Luatua’s return and the fact that most of the opportunities will be doing the dirty work, don’t expect to see Matuska’s conversion be more than some work in the trenches or in garbage time.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Pegging Matuska’s snap count to what Hounshell did last year might be a solid barometer. Of course, that required a season-ending injury to Durham Smythe and players like Nic Weishar and Alizé Jones taking their first snaps as college football players.

Matuska isn’t the only veteran in a new job. Swapping John Montelus to the defensive line and Matuska to the offense are attempts to find roles for big, strong veteran players on a team that’s young. I think Matuska has a better chance of finding a role than Montelus, but expecting more than specialty work might be asking too much.

This gives Matuska the best chance for a fifth year at Notre Dame, something that didn’t seem possible as a defensive lineman. Add in the fact that he was a quick study this spring and it’s a nice second life for the Ohio native.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Greer Martini

Irish A-to-Z: Greer Martini

AP
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Below the radar since his days as a recruit, Greer Martini seems poised to seize an opportunity in a linebacking corps filled with unknowns. Highly productive in his limited opportunities—mostly as an option specialist—Martini’s capable of much more, including contributing at all three positions in Brian VanGorder’s system.

He’ll need to be healthy, first. One of many that spent spring on the mend (Martini had offseason shoulder surgery), he’ll challenge senior James Onwualu for snaps at the Sam linebacker job and could also win the starting role as Jaylon Smith’s replacement.

 

GREER MARTINI
6’2.5″, 245 lbs.
Junior, No. 48, LB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

An out of the blue commitment before his junior season, Martini was an unranked prospect at the time of his commitment, though he had offers from Maryland, NC State and Virginia Tech. He ended up a three-star recruit, but was unranked nationally by any of the major recruiting services.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, starting against Navy and USC. One of five true freshmen to notch at least 12 tackles. Had 26 tackles, two TFLs and a sack against Louisville. A season-high nine tackles against Navy.

Sophomore Season (2015): Played in all 13 games, starting against Georgia Tech, Navy, Boston College and Stanford. Made 35 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and one sack. Was at his best against option opponents Georgia Tech and Navy.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Pretty spot on.

Expect to see Martini do more of the little things for the Irish in 2015. He very quickly established himself as a trusted freshman. He was the first rookie to see the field in his class. He also managed to appear in all 13 games, with two starts another indicator that he caught on to the defense quickly—while also showing special teams value.

That value will make him a fixture on Scott Booker’s run units. And Martini will also see plenty of playing time against the option. With run-powered attacks coming against Navy, Georgia Tech (and likely Boston College), Martini will be an in-the-trenches type, capable of taking Onwualu off the field, and also sliding inside if needed. Martini’s nine tackles as a true freshman against Navy triggerman extraordinaire Keenan Reynolds is probably one of the more overlooked performances of the season.

I like underdogs and have always liked Martini. So while most looked at this freshman class of linebackers and wonder how long it’ll take them to jump the line, I see Martini as a key contributor and potential starter in the future.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Martini is still likely a part-time player in his third season of competition. But there’s the makings of a highly productive linebacker here, and I expect to see that sooner than later. One of the poster boys of the RKG prototype, Martini is a better athlete than he’s given credit for, has shown a nose for the football, and will have plenty of opportunities to win a job with Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt out the door.

His versatility should allow him to play all three linebacker spots this season if needed. That type of thing—along with a nice dose of experience—could serve as a tiebreaker when the defensive staff is choosing a starter at the Will linebacker position.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

I’m not sure how he’ll do it, but I expect Martini to take the second-most snaps of any linebacker behind Nyles Morgan. The logic is fuzzy—senior James Onwualu will likely be the starting Sam linebacker—and the Irish staff believes in talented sophomore Te’von Coney. But there are just so many things that Martini is good at, and keeping him on the field makes too much sense.

Productivity wise, I’m expecting a jump as well. We’ve seen Martini thrive against option opponents. Add in run-heavy opponents like Nevada, Michigan State and Army to the slate and too many arrows point to opportunities for Martini. I expect him to seize them.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke

 

 

 

Irish A-to-Z: Cole Luke

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Notre Dame’s most-tenured starter is Cole Luke, with 26 starts manning a challenging post for Brian VanGorder. Now a senior on a defense lacking in experience, Luke will have leadership duties as well as the job of covering opponents No. 1, needing a strong finish to his collegiate career after a year stuck in neutral.

Flying under the national radar—Luke didn’t find his name on the Jim Thorpe watch list—there’s a very good cornerback capable of playing at a championship level. But Luke will need to play with a sense of urgency that usually comes with a final season, a veteran who is now long in the tooth, able to draw on the memory of some really good battles over the past three seasons.

 

COLE LUKE
5’11”, 193 lbs.
Senior, No. 36, CB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Top 150 player, offers from both Oklahoma and Texas before choosing Notre Dame. Luke was an early target for Notre Dame, and played at Hamilton under former Irish quarterback Steve Belles.

Luke committed early and then stuck with Notre Dame as some elite programs kept giving chase. It was a big recruiting win.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Played in all 13 games, made 15 tackles. Broke up two passes. Made six tackles against Air Force.

Sophomote Season (2014): Played and started all 13 games, finishing sixth on the team with 48 tackles. Tied for team lead with four interceptions. Broke up 11 passes, good for the third most in school history and the most since 1978. Also defended 15 passes, tied for 20th in FBS. Had two interceptions against Stanford.

Junior Season (2015): Started all 13 games, making 41 total tackles, one TFL, two interceptions and five pass break-ups. Led Notre Dame’s defense with 870 total snaps, playing his best-graded game against Pitt, per PFF College.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Luke didn’t have the season that he did in 2014, when he was challenged with perhaps the most dynamic slate of top-line receivers in the country.

For as productive as Luke was last year, this season might be primed for even better returns. if KeiVarae Russell is as good as expected, opponents won’t want anything to do with him. So that might mean Luke’s number is getting called more often, a great situation for a cornerback who believes in his ability to make plays.

In 2015, we need to find out how competitive Luke really is. Russell will bring that out in his secondary mates — and Lyght will foster it as well. But every great cover man plays with zero memory and a unbendable self-belief that seemed to exist at moments for Luke, but also showed some low-points (I’m thinking of the USC game, specifically).

That’s life as a sophomore. But Luke is an upperclassman now and has the potential to be as good as he wants to be. We’ll find out in 2015 if that’s just a productive college cornerback… or a DB with the chance to be another top draft pick on a roster that looks stacked with pro prospects.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

There’s an NFL player here, and Luke’s senior season will determine whether or not he’s a guy drafted in the early-to-mid rounds or if he’s a player who’ll fight to stay on the bottom of a roster. He won’t likely test with elite speed and he’s got good-but-not-great size. So he’ll need to make his waves as a technician, and find a way to be around the football more—something he did quite well as a sophomore.

But Luke at his best is a standout. The more you watch his sophomore season (and flashes last year) the more you see a a coverman with great positional talent.

Whoever starts opposite Luke next season will be a newcomer. So that’ll mean the senior will draw the marquee assignments, potentially flipping sides of the field and following a receiver if Todd Lyght and VanGorder think that makes the most sense. So Luke will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents before the next level awaits.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Luke is a key piece of the puzzle for the Irish in 2016. He and Max Redfield will be senior starters on the back end, two veterans who absolutely need to bring their best to the table for the Irish defense to improve. I think Luke is primed to do just that, playing his third season in a system he’s familiar with and playing for the second straight year with Lyght as his position coach.

Can Luke make big plays? He sure can. We saw him all around the football in 2014 with 11 pass breakups and four picks. That’s the type of impact the Irish need from him, and it’ll likely determine whether or not he gets looked at as a national player or just a nice veteran.

To be a great cornerback you need to be a productive one, and this defense desperately needs to find ways to take the football away and be impactful. I think Luke does it this year, growing into a leadership role and playing with the confidence of a senior. Luke’s my pick to lead the secondary in interceptions and pass breakups.

 

2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Josh Adams
Josh Barajas
Alex Bars
Asmar Bilal
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Ian Book
Parker Boudreaux
Miles Boykin
Justin Brent
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Chase Claypool
Nick Coleman
Te’von Coney
Shaun Crawford
Scott Daly
Micah Dew-Treadway
Liam Eichenberg
Jalen Elliott
Nicco Feritta
Tarean Folston
Mark Harrell
Daelin Hayes
Jay Hayes
Tristen Hoge
Corey Holmes
Torii Hunter Jr.
Alizé Jones
Jamir Jones
Jarron Jones
Jonathan Jones
Tony Jones Jr.
Khalid Kareem
DeShone Kizer
Julian Love
Tyler Luatua