Jamar McGloster is expected to take on a large role on the offensive line this season for the Syracuse Orange in what appears to be the final level of development of his transition to football from basketball.
Having played four years of basketball at Saint Anthony’s before moving to football for his last two years, McGloster has transitioned from a raw project along the offensive line to a mammoth book-end tackle that the Orange will rely heavily upon with the departure of Sean Hickey to the NFL.
Still learning the game in his fifth year of organized football, McGloster has taken some positive strides from last year to spring practice, but he still has a ways to go. That might not be welcoming news to Orange fans as well as quarterback Terrel Hunt, but the 6’7”, 303 lbs., offensive tackle seems to be a quick study.
“When I first started I only knew how to ‘go get that guy over there’,” McGloster said motioning to different areas of the hallway. “I’ve learned a lot. It’s been an easier process to learn compared to basketball. In basketball I did more agile stuff, but I’ve been getting stronger, learning plays and being more aggressive.
“It’s all about technique.”
According to McGloster, technique has been the biggest adjustment moving from basketball to football. Now that he has the playbook and offensive terminology down at a comfortable, confident level, this spring has been all about honing in his technique - which is still a raw area of his game.
Coming out of Saint Anthony, McGloster wasn’t even thinking of playing Division I football, considering Saint Anthony is a high school basketball powerhouse in New Jersey. But a chance meeting in the hallway one day with then-Syracuse offensive line coach, Pat Perles, changed his fortunes. After that, head coach Scott Shafer said that he’d be “honored” to be able to develop the lineman.
“He was probably more of a basketball player when he first started and we liked his athleticism and that sort of thing,” Shafer said. “He’s learning how to play the game, learning how to play with leverage.
“Big ol’ dog, I mean he’s a big ol’ dog.”
That “big ol’ dog” will be one of the linemen counted on to replace Hickey, who held down the left and right side of the line for 3+ years. During his freshman season, McGloster played primarily right tackle and didn’t see a single snap of action, but switched to left tackle last season behind Hickey, where he said would “Look at him [Hickey], see what he does, see what I could do.”
When Hickey went down in the first half of the Duke game last season, McGloster was able to see some reps against top competition, which showed the New Jersey product that he can compete and win at this level.
“It showed me I can do this,” he said with a smile cracking his lips.
He’ll need to do more than just “compete” next season as one of the anchors along a rebuilt offensive line, which is saying a lot for a guy with limited experience and football IQ – at least right now.
Taking snaps at both tackle positions in spring practice, McGloster said he’s taking more snaps at right tackle, but is starting to see his reps on the left side increase as he grows more and more comfortable.
But it all goes back to technique, which is the foundation of any good offensive linemen.
McGloster said he’s now taking two steps at a defender “instead of rushing at them like I used to.” With his quick feet and agility from playing basketball, pass blocking at tackle has come natural to him due to his balance below the waist and quickness.
According to McGloster, he’s still trying to stay vertical in his drops in pass protection, but his quick feet help him make up for mistakes in that regard. But with more experience and work comes better results. Instead of trying to establish a foundation built on technique, McGloster is simply trying to fine-tune it.
“With [the right] technique, you can do anything,” he said.
Orange fans hope the foundation shows no cracks once the bright lights shine on McGloster come Sept. 5 against Rhode Island.