Freshman Focus: Mike McGlinchey

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If you’re looking for a developmental prospect along the offensive line, there might be no better candidate than Philadelphia native Mike McGlinchey. With a frame that seems like a mold breaker and the size and athleticism to play the post for Mike Brey, McGlinchey is a true tackle prospect on an offensive line that often times resembles five guards.

While early enrollee Steve Elmer looks like the type of player that could slide in at left tackle after Zack Martin heads to the NFL, McGlinchey gives Harry Hiestand a big body they can be patient with at right tackle, and a guy with athleticism that excites the coaching staff.

Let’s take a closer look at McGlinchey.

RECRUITING PEDIGREE

Notre Dame wasn’t the only school that saw a budding star at offensive tackle, with McGlinchey receiving plenty of impressive offers. Long thought to be a Penn State lean, McGlinchey took an unofficial visit to South Bend and was ready to commit in short order.

A four-star, top 250 type player, McGlinchey turned down Florida, Florida State, Boston College, Michigan, Miami and Wisconsin among about a dozen others, with the Irish landing a two-sport star that they think could become something special.

“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,” Brian Kelly said on Signing Day. “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.”

EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES

In short, there’s next to no pressure on McGlinchey to see the field early. With a lot of growing into his body to do, nor should there be. With Zack Martin, Christian Lombard and Ronnie Stanley the Irish look like they have three tackles that Kelly and Hiestand can trust to play at a BCS level. Behind that, there’s a belief that true freshman Steve Elmer can step in and contribute if needed. After that? Well, it could get interesting.

Health along the offensive line — or at least healthy depth — won’t truly come until the 2014 season, when McGlinchey and Elmer will have a season under their belt, Lombard will be in his fifth year, and Stanley will be entering his third season (but just his sophomore year of eligibility thanks to a season-ending elbow injury). With Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars set for ’14, things start to look healthy quick.

PROJECTING THE FUTURE

Speaking to some people around the program, there’s a belief that McGlinchey could be a future star. He’s got the athleticism this staff covets along with some badly needed size. After losing prospects like Jordan Prestwood and Tate Nichols, the Irish have suffered some tough luck up front, and back-to-back recruiting classes in ’13 and ’14 will restock the offensive line.

If Elmer, Stanley and McGlinchey all develop, it could give the Irish the opportunity to shift Christian Lombard inside in ’14, opening up a job for the winners of the positional battle. Right now, it appears that it’s Elmer and Stanley with the inside tracks, but it’s up to McGlinchey to work hard in the weight room and turn into the type of athletic and massive tackle prospect that swallows up defensive ends.

We still haven’t been able to see how Brian Kelly likes to truly use his offensive linemen, as creating depth and keeping players fresh really hasn’t been possible with numbers being what they were. That critical lack of bodies up front killed the Irish in the run-up to last season’s BCS Championship, and still leaves them susceptible to injuries derailing the front five. But in the near future as the Irish begin war-chesting some impressive prospects, we’ll get to see how the staff successfully gets talented players on the field, and that could be the determining factor for a guy like McGlinchey.