In McGlinchey's case, bigger means better

Blessed with athleticism that belies his 6'7" (now) 300-pound frame, Irish sophomore offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey aims to perfect one role after starring in several throughout his prep career.

Well, he's tall, strong, and his hair is often cropped high and tight.

But other than that? Notre Dame sophomore Mike McGlinchey isn't sure where or when he received the moniker "Drago" but he admits it serves as a flattering, somewhat fitting description.

"Oh yeah, I know (the reference)," McGlinchey noted. "Rocky IV. I'm a Philly guy. I grew up on the Rocky movies. He's a mean guy. That's a pretty good compliment."

Compliments abound for the six-foot-seven, 300-pound McGlinchey of late. Irish head coach Brian Kelly joked in the off-season that the standout athlete "throws the ball better than half our quarterbacks, he's that kind of athlete."

Kelly's hyperbole contains an element of truth. McGlinchey, it turns out, has played the position. In fact, his prep career included stints within every position group save for the defensive backfield.


McGlinchey (#68) worked behind one of the program's all-time best, Zack Martin, as a true freshman last fall

"I've always been tall, but in high school I was a basketball player first," McGlinchey said. "Playing basketball and playing lacrosse, and always doing something different and competing, has helped me in a lot of ways. It keeps me very athletic and able to move in certain ways that a lot of other guys can't because they specialize too early."

The disadvantage? He's not playing basketball, lacrosse, or running back anymore. He's an offensive tackle, and ballast at the point of attack is as important as ballet-level grace in space.

"I come off the ball hard and I play hard," said McGlinchey when pressed for his best traits. "That's something I've always prided myself on. I've always worked hard to be one of the guys you can count on, the guy that will step up. I try to play nasty and in terms of technique, I'm obviously still working on things. I'm getting there and I can see improvements.

"Not playing offensive line throughout (most of) high school, I came in a little behind in the weight room. I've definitely worked my butt off to try and play catch-up. I'm getting there, but I'm not where I need to be."

Right Tackle -- but in competition with a Guard

Seniors Nick Martin, Matt Hegarty, and Conor Hanratty can play guard or center. McGlinchey's classmate Steve Elmer can play tackle or guard. So too fifth-year senior Christian Lombard.

But McGlinchey is slated for tackle duty, and with junior Ronnie Stanley seemingly entrenched on the left side, it appears its right tackle or bust, at least in terms of a starting spot, for the line's most athletic football player.

So why, as offered by Brian Kelly, is he competing with a guard?

"To a finer point, is it McGlinchey or is it Hanratty?" Kelly said of the line's ongoing competition to find its five best players.

It's safe to assume Stanley (left tackle), Elmer (left guard), and Martin (center) -- upon his return from November knee surgery -- will hold down their listed roles. And if Martin does not start at the pivot position, Hegarty will.

That leaves Hanratty (RG), Lombard (RG or RT), Hegarty (possibly guard) and McGlinchey (RT) to compete for two spots.

To that end, McGlinchey plans to practice hard and to trust the process and those in charge.

"I'm just out here trying to do what I can to have them put their trust in me," McGlinchey said. "Obviously, that's the goal, but I'm not ready to say I'm the starter because Lord knows anything can happen before August 30.

"I worked extremely hard in the off-season and all of last season to put myself in a position to compete for the starting job. I'd like to think Coach Kelly and (offensive line) Coach (Harry) Hiestand are getting more and more trust in me as the days go on."

McGlinchey has nothing but praise for the program's third-year offensive line tutor.

"He's definitely demanding. But I wouldn't want to play for anybody else in the country," said McGlinchey of Hiestand. "He knows what it takes and he does what he needs to do to get us ready to play, and I believe in what he's teaching.

"He can be tough on us, but I'd rather have it that way than the other way around. He cares a lot about us and he throws a lot of himself into his job and into us. Every single offensive lineman, no matter tough he can be on us, really appreciates that kind of passion and love for the game and for us.

"You listen to everything he says. You can't miss anything he's saying because it's all important and it always has a big-time effect on how you're going to be successful."

So too did McGlinchey's inevitable weight gain (and future weight gain) as he fills out a 300-pound frame.

"When that ‘3' was the first number on that scale for the first time, that was a big day for me. I never thought I would call my mom and dad thinking I was proud of being 300 pounds," McGlinchey said. "It's going to take some getting used to being bigger, but I think I'm ready for it, and whatever the coaches, the nutritionists and strength coaches decide (for) me to be, I'll be.

"I'm really appreciative of the opportunity that I've been given this spring. It's definitely been a learning experience and I have a lot of work still to do and that's very clear. But I'm really confident in my abilities, the work that I've put into it.

"And the work I'm going to keep putting into this."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories