Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 16 of 55 OCT. 17, 2016 17 said. "He has the verbal presence, the size, the ability to truly take over a team. And all the way across the board, on offense, defense, special teams, he leads us completely. "His experience and his ability to understand what he's good at and what he's not good at, and to coach us up out on the field, allows us in our quarterback room and at the skill positions to rely on someone who's going to be a rock to us and kind of a cornerstone for our offense." McGlinchey followed a path most Notre Dame linemen have followed in recent years. Since 2008, 26 of 28 Notre Dame offensive linemen red- shirted as freshmen, including Zack Martin and Ronnie Stanley, who were eventual first-round NFL picks. The two who did not were guards Trevor Robinson (2008) and Steve El- mer (2013), and they started three and four games, respectively, their first season. In 2006, Sam Young (now with the Miami Dolphins) started all 13 games at right tackle for Notre Dame as a freshman, the first Irish player to start the season opener on the of- fensive line since freshmen regained their eligibility in 1972. All that seasoning and learning under highly regarded offensive line coach Harry Hi- estand have prepared McGlinchey well. In the 10 NFL Drafts be- fore Hiestand arrived in South Bend in 2013, o n l y o n e o ff e n s i v e lineman — center Jeff Faine (1999-2003) — was selected with one of the first 160 picks. In the last three drafts, four Irish line- men were taken inside the top 90 spots, including two first-rounders. "I have a lot left to learn. I'm not ready to go anywhere," McGlinchey said. "I have the best in the business coaching me each and every day, and it's to my benefit to just stay here and learn from him, and there's nothing that I can do to want to change that." Should McGlinchey return to Notre Dame for the 2017 season, he would forgo a likely spot in the first round of the NFL Draft. There is risk involved in returning to college. Case in point: Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith was projected as a top-10 or even top-five pick un- til a knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl bumped him to the second round. McGlinchey, a 6-7½, 310-pounder who moved from right to left tackle this season, entered the 2016 sea- son with high expectations placed on him. The 19-game starter was in- cluded on the preseason watch lists for the Outland Trophy (best interior offensive lineman) and the Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker). NFL teams, which are regulars at Notre Dame games and practices, will still have their eye on Mc- Glinchey as the season wears on. The Philadelphia native was the No. 24 overall player and No. 2 offen- sive lineman in ESPN NFL Draft ana- lyst Todd McShay's listing of the top 32 draft-eligible players as of Oct. 5. (Ju- nior left guard Quenton Nelson, who is also eligible for the 2017 draft, is rated as the No. 25 overall player. Kizer is No. 23, according to McShay.) "McGlinchey is long enough to protect the edge against most speed rushers when his footwork is sound," McShay wrote, giving McGlinchey a grade of 88. "With that said, he's best suited to initially play on the right side in the NFL. He flashes a nasty disposi- tion and gets under defenders' skin." Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN rated Mc- Glinchey as the No. 21 overall player and the No. 2 offensive line under- classman on his most current Big Board. "After playing right tackle last season, with 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley man- ning the left side, Mc- Glinchey moved to left tackle this season and has had a few hiccups," Kiper wrote. "He is a massive athlete who looks like a tight end with pads on, but his future in the NFL might be on the right side." According to Pro Football Focus, which breaks down every play from every game, McGlinchey was the 17th-best tackle in college football through five weeks, and No. 7 among Power Five left tackles. His best game through five weeks came against Duke, when he graded out at 78.8. His worst was against Texas, a 71.2. His average game this season is a 76.3. All the projections are just noise to McGlinchey, who claims he does not pay attention to the draft rankings. "It's not going to come down to a projection for me," he said. "It's going to come down to a mindset and a look in the mirror of whether or not I am ready to go. And based off of what I'm feeling now, I'm pretty confident that I'll be back here for a fifth year. And it's not any major decision or ground- breaking decision. I fully intended to do that when I first got to college. "I have so much left to learn here, and it's not going to come down to projections or potential money that I can make. If I'm good enough at the point when I feel ready to do it, I'll do it. And those projections will be- come reality at some point when it's my time to be ready to do that." ✦ McGlinchey has started 19 games in his Notre Dame career and is a team captain this season. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA "IT'S NOT GOING TO COME DOWN TO PROJECTIONS OR POTENTIAL MONEY THAT I CAN MAKE. IF I'M GOOD ENOUGH AT THE POINT WHEN I FEEL READY TO DO IT, I'LL DO IT." MCGLINCHEY

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