A peek into Notre Dame's future: OL Mike McGlinchey

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

After his Penn Charter School football team had knocked off Germantown in a Philadelphia rivalry game, then-Penn Charter coach Jeff Humble was at a postseason meeting with his Germantown counterpart when the topic of that game arose.

In particular, Humble was told that Germantown felt pretty good about its chances if Penn Charter’s Mike McGlinchey didn’t use his wingspan to tackle the Germantown quarterback and fullback, and then pursue the tailback if the pitch was made.

“And guess what?” the coach told Humble. “He did and there went our whole gameplan.”

The gameplan at this point for the 6-foot-8, 310-pound redshirt freshman McGlinchey, now one game from his second season at Notre Dame being complete, is to be to earn one of the five starting spots on next year’s Irish line, most likely at right tackle.

The strongest indicator yet came in last month’s regular-season ending loss at USC. With Trojan star defensive lineman Leonard Williams having his way with the right side of ND’s line, Irish coach Brian Kelly inserted McGlinchey at right tackle, offering a strong clue as to who could fill the only known vacancy on next year’s line.

Christian Lombard, a starter all season on the right side, is completing his fifth year. Kelly this week, however, confirmed that junior left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who retains two years of eligibility, and senior left guard Nick Martin, who is eligible for a fifth year, have submitted their paperwork to the NFL Advisory Committee to receive feedback on their draft prospects.

Center Matt Hegarty is expected to return for a fifth year and right guard Steve Elmer will be a junior in 2015.

And if the four return, that leaves one spot, with McGlinchey the leading candidate to grab it.

“He’s getting there, he’s making good progress,” Humble said. “If they were to draw a learning curve, I think it goes right where it’s supposed to be in terms of a learning curve.”

Part of the growth, according to Humble, comes in that McGlinchey was a physical mismatch – a very significant physical mismatch – at Penn Charter, a smaller private school.

“The technical piece of what he did in high school was very raw because he can just push people out of the way,” Humble said. “So I do think a piece of his learning curve is the technical piece, the fine-tuning. He’s athletic, he’s got good feet. Now, how do you put it all together and make him that D-1 offensive lineman that can play at Notre Dame.”

During one of Notre Dame’s bye weeks this season, McGlinchey stopped by Penn Charter to pay Humble a visit.

“He came in to see me during the bye week and his body’s transforming. He’s much thicker. But watching him, he still has that athleticism and that athletic piece to him, but he’s certainly bigger,” Humble said. “When he came in to see me and I looked at him, he looks well put-together.”

McGlinchey put together an impressive high school athletic resume at Penn Charter. Beyond football, McGlinchey also played basketball, where Humble said the big man was as comfortable dunking as he was stepping out and launching a 3-pointer. McGlinchey also dabbled in lacrosse.

He worked part-time jobs at a hardware store and at a pizza place on the Jersey Shore, which his family visits during the summer. McGlinchey would make the one-hour commute back to Philly to participate in Penn Charter’s summer conditioning.

“It’s hard to get Michael to sit still,” Humble said.

In terms of playing time, though, that’s what McGlinchey has gone through since arriving at Notre Dame in 2013.

“He has a very realistic approach, and he knew he was coming from Penn Charter and going to Notre Dame and he has the attitude and the intelligence to understand. He went in knowing that he was going to make every opportunity of every rep he got, but he certainly didn’t go in thinking, ‘Well, I was the big man on campus here, I’m going to Notre Dame and start,’” Humble said. “It’s not that at all.”

Instead, McGlinchey worked as a redshirt last year, a backup this year, and could be working as a starter next year.

“So he’s taking it in stride 100 percent and he understands and he’s coachable in that aspect,” Humble said. “He’s not going to put his head down and mope that he’s not playing right now. He understands that he’s a freshman – he’s a redshirt freshman – but he’s still a young lad early in the program.”

Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey played extensively in the loss to USC. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)