Irish A-to-Z: Mike McGlinchey

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Last preseason, Mike McGlinchey was the odd-man out along the offensive line, losing out on the opportunity to be the team’s starting right tackle. Entering 2015, he’s one of the key X factors that’ll determine whether or not Harry Hiestand’s offensive line is one of the elite units in the country.

McGlinchey was boxed out last fall when Steve Elmer started the year at right tackle after spending all spring at guard. And even after Elmer was kicked back inside after three games, McGlinchey stayed on the sidelines, with Hiestand and Brian Kelly picking Christian Lombard to play tackle over the first-year contributor, sliding Matt Hegarty in at center and Nick Martin over to left guard.

But Lombard’s bad back forced McGlinchey into the lineup against USC and LSU, and the young offensive lineman delivered. Building off that experience, the mega-talented prospect will have the opportunity to show so much more as he protects the blind side of left-handed quarterback Malik Zaire.

Let’s take a closer look at one of Notre Dame’s most intriguing players.

 

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

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A four-star prospect with some recruiting services seeing him as a Top 150 player. McGlinchey was a true projection-type recruit, and schools like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were all trying to land the Philadelphia native.

If there was a prototype right tackle prospect, McGlinchey was it, and on Signing Day, Kelly was quick to praise him—while also wondering if he’d be a basketball player and almost a seven-footer by the time he was done growing into his frame in South Bend.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.

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

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

McGlinchey didn’t get the shot I thought he would get in 2014, though he proved why I was so bullish on him in the season’s final two games.

(I know, even a broken clock is right twice a day.)

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.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

There’s dazzling potential in McGlinchey, who has earned the praise of Kelly multiple times. Whether it’s for his quick feet, strong throwing arm or low-post game, it’s usually a good sign when a six-foot-eight offensive lineman is one of the team’s best athletes.

But looking good in the gym and being dominant on the football field are two different things. Even if the sample-size was small, doing great work against elite defensive lineman Leonard Williams and then the LSU front seven makes for a very bright future for a right tackle who should spend three years in the starting lineup.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

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.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL