Notebook: Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey committed to smoothing out flaws

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — The disconnect in Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey still showing up as a first-rounder in various NFL mock drafts and ratings boards is plain to see on a couple of fronts.

One, he continues to reaffirm that he’ll be back for a fifth year at ND in 2017. Two, he has moments in which he looks like he needs another year in college, particularly if his pro future is going to be on the left side of the line.

Heading into Saturday’s first-ever football clash between host Notre Dame (4-6) and Virginia Tech (7-3), the website CFBfilmroom.com purports McGlinchey has allowed 14 quarterback pressures in 348 pass protection snaps as a left tackle, compared with five in 422 such snaps in 2015 at right tackle.

Additionally, illegal procedure penalties have been an intermittent problem this season for the 6-foot-8, 310-pound senior from Philadelphia, with three bunched up over the past couple of games.

“Mike is a highly strung guy. It’s his personality, and he knows it,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said of the false starts, after Thursday’s practice. “He just has to relax and be more comfortable in those pressure situations, and he’s growing into that. But clearly he sees that as an area that he has to get better at.

“That’s probably something we’ll work on with him in terms of mental training more so than physical training. He knows it’s something that he has to get better at and … one of the reasons he’s coming back is he’s got some things to work on.”

If McGlinchey changes his mind about that between now and Jan. 16, the deadline for players with remaining eligibility to declare for the draft, he already has a lot of admirers in the analyst business.

Pro Football Focus this week projected McGlinchey as the 26th overall pick in the 2017 draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., recently pegged McGlinchey as the No. 2 offensive tackle in the draft.

Colleague Todd McShay has McGlinchey at No. 25 in his newest top 32 rankings, released Thursday, two spots ahead of teammate and junior left guard Quenton Nelson.

Wrote McShay, “McGlinchey is long enough to protect the edge against most speed-rushers when his footwork is sound. With that said, he's best suited to initially play on the right side in the NFL. He flashes a nasty disposition and gets under defenders' skin.”

Kelly said McGlinchey’s growth potential revolves around the ongoing transition of moving from the right side to the left.

“He’s much more comfortable being on the right side, there’s no question about that,” Kelly said. “I think just settling into that position in year 2 at the left side and being much more comfortable in his sets and just being more consistent is what we’ll see from him.”

Devin Butler update

Brian Kelly said Thursday he has talked to the father of indefinitely suspended senior cornerback Devin Butler and expects the player to make a public announcement soon about his future.

Butler pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement on Oct. 17, and two felony charges against him were dropped at that time.

He was arrested early on the morning of Aug. 20 after an altercation with police outside the Linebacker bar near the Notre Dame campus. He initially faced felony charges of resisting law enforcement and battering a police officer.

Because Butler didn’t play this season and had not previously redshirted, he does have a year of eligibility left to play either at ND or another school.

Personnel matters

• Neither senior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (knee), nor junior nose guard Daniel Cage (concussion symptoms) practiced on Thursday, per Kelly.

Hunter, ND’s second-leading receiver, missed last Saturday’s game against Army. Cage, a part-time starter, missed the past two games.

• Kelly said grad senior Mark Harrell will likely draw his second career start on Saturday, at right guard, and second in as many weeks, though he said recovered senior Colin McGovern (ankle) would likely see action as well.

Recruiting residue

Virginia Tech fifth-year senior defensive end Ken Ekanem said he’ll bring a little extra juice to Saturday’s Notre Dame Stadium matchup, in part because he said ND dropped him late in the recruiting process because of a knee injury that he suffered in the Virginia Class Division 6 state championship game.

“Notre Dame came two weeks later (after the MRI results were available) to my school and told me I shouldn’t come visit,” the now 6-3, 260-pounder from Centreville, Va., told the Roanoke (Va.) Times this week. “And they wouldn’t accept my commitment due to the uncertainty in my knee.”

Kelly, when asked about Ekanem’s recruitment in the 2012 cycle, remembered it differently.

“I do remember (former defensive coordinator Bob) Diaco recruiting him, and I remember us filling up,” Kelly said Thursday. “I’ve never pulled a scholarship with any player. It’s never anything I’ve ever done in my career. We’ve always honored scholarships.”

He cited the example of wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.’s leg injury in January of 2013 that wiped out his entire freshman year and slowed his progress even after that.

“We may fill up, but we’re very transparent in telling recruits that we’ve got two spots left at a particular positon and when we fill up, we fill up,” Kelly said. “And I’m certain we were transparent about whatever the process was. I can’t recall exactly.”

In Kelly’s defense, archived stories from mid-January chronicled a numbers crunch with scholarships at that time. Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel reneged on his commitment to LSU and enrolled early instead at ND in January.

The Irish were also trying to get back decommitted elite cornerback Ronald Darby, had to add safety Chris Badger back into the mix after a two-year Mormon Mission, had to find a scholarship for USC transfer Amir Carlisle, and was getting a late look from elite defensive end prospect Arik Armstead, whose brother at USC was considering transferring to ND.

Ekanem, recruited as an outside linebacker by ND, has 23 tackles with 4.5 sacks this season. His best season was 2014, when he recorded 53 tackles and a team-high 9.5 sacks.

ehansen@ndinsider.com

574-235-6112

Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (68) is a projected first-round NFL Draft pick, but wants to return to ND in 2017 to work on his game. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)