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Mike McGlinchey: Things I Know

Sept. 14, 2016

Mike McGlinchey: Things I Know

Senior offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey ranks as the most experienced returnee on the 2016 Notre Dame offensive line. The 6-7 ½-inch, 310-pound Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, product started every game for the Irish in 2015 and earned second-team preseason All-America notice for 2016 from CBS Sports.

I was born in Warrington, Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes outside Philadelphia. I grew up the oldest of six kids and one of 30 grandchildren on my mom’s side of the family. I’m the oldest grandchild on my father’s side. We all kind of grew up together as a crazy football family. My next brother will be a freshman next year playing football at Franklin & Marshall and I have seven other cousins who have gone on and played college football as well.

I’m the only nonskilled player in my family. It’s funny how that worked out. I grew up just loving football. That’s how we all got along together. It’s been the backbone of our family for as long as I can remember.

I don’t know where my size came from. My dad is about 5-11. My mom is 5-8. So it must have been a genetic mutation-I got lucky. I’ve got two cousins who are 6-3 and 6-4 but nothing quite like 6-7. I was always the biggest thing in everything I did.

I started playing football in kindergarten and actually had to stop in second and third grade. I had to play pound football back then and my mom didn’t want me playing against kids who were 14 years old when I was 8. Then when I was in fourth grade I got back into CYO ball which was un-weighted. In high school I played tight end the whole time and a little offensive line. I thought originally I would be a basketball player when I first went into high school. Then I started doing some things in football and some schools came calling early and I just sort of put basketball on the back burner because of the type of schools that were calling for football. Obviously it worked itself out-I can’t complain.

At the end of my freshman year in high school I took a trip up to Boston College with my older cousin John (Loughery), who was my high school’s quarterback at the time. He was a borderline scholarship guy for them and he was going to go up and work out at their camp, so my uncle asked my parents if I could go along because he thought it would be a good thing for me to see. I wound up going up there and they put me through a lot of the workouts and ended up offering me a scholarship. So after that weekend I thought maybe this football thing would be a good thing to try. Football kind of picked me-and I’m obviously super-thankful for that because it’s given me a ton of opportunities.

All my cousins live within 10 minutes of each other in Philly, so we all kind of grew up as siblings as opposed to cousins because our moms are so close. My mom is the youngest of six-five girls and one boy. We’ve got a huge family. Every single one of us would pick up and move to the Jersey shore for the summer because my grandparents have had a place there since the ’60s. So there are about 60 of us that live in the same complex.

I grew up an Irish Catholic kid-in a very religious family. Notre Dame was always that school off in the distance that always had some interest for me because it was the Catholic school and they were on TV every Saturday and we really liked being able to celebrate the things we shared with Notre Dame. My uncle (John Loughery) played quarterback at Boston College in the ’70s and my older cousin Matt (Ryan) played there, too, and is now getting his number retired there. Boston College was my first offer, and I thought I would wind up going to BC like they did. But I kind of held out for that envelope with the little golden dome on it. Once those envelopes started coming and Coach (Harry) Hiestand got the (offensive line coach) job and started recruiting me I came out here and never wanted to leave. In one visit I confirmed everything I’d always thought about Notre Dame.

I committed my junior year in high school so I kind of had two seasons to pay attention to Notre Dame and how they operated. The national championship game season was my senior year in high school, so I watched a lot of (former Irish captain) Zack (Martin). Once Coach Hiestand got there they really started having success on the offensive front.

Once I got here I figured out I wasn’t the man any more. I was actually very far behind both physically and mentally from being ready to play. I wound up doing well enough to work into the two deep as a true freshman and travel to every game. So I got the chance to see how game day operated and see how guys like Zack and Chris (Watt) went about their business. They were the fifth-year seniors when I was a true freshman. They were the examples-the pro’s pros-in terms of how they went about things every day. That was the example that was set and I constantly look back at it. All I wanted to do was emulate what number 70 did and I’m still trying to work toward that. The good thing about what Zack did was that he did everything the right way all the time on and off the field, and so that’s the goal of who you want to be as a player and as a person. Then Nick (Martin) did the same thing when it was his time and Ronnie (Stanley) as well. They showed me how much I needed to work and engross myself in what we were doing. They set the path, and they helped put me in the position I’m in right now. I couldn’t be more thankful for them.

Last year I was the young guy and now I’m the guy with the most starts. It’s kind of a weird thing. At the same time I’m ready for it because of the guys I’ve had in front of me. I know how it looks and how it’s supposed to be done. I’m going to do it a little different than them because we’re all different people. Bu that’s the standard we want to uphold. It’s now my job and I take a great deal of pride in that.

It’s kind of bizarre how close the offensive linemen are, and it’s gotten even more so as the years have gone by since I’ve been here. That’s how Coach Hiestand and Coach (Brian) Kelly have done such a great job of all this-everybody is in the same room working for the same thing. We take care of each other. We do a lot of things together. We work as a full unit fulltime, and it helps when you have as much trust and care for each other as we do. It’s been a special thing here so far and it’s the reason I consider the decision to go to Notre Dame the best one I’ve made so far. These are guys I get to go to work with together every day and guys I call my best friends. We’re really excited about it.

The thing about Coach (Harry) Hiestand is that he cares so much about what he does and about what we do and who we are. He’s so passionate about everything that it rubs off on us and increases our respect for him. He has done so much work for us, taking care of us and making us be the best players and people we can be and he’s genuinely, genuinely concerned with that. Not only is he the best teacher but he also genuinely cares about everybody in that room. He’s not going to stop until we want it as bad as he wants it. It’s been working out pretty well the last four years.

The current and former offensive linemen–we all stay in touch. We’re all football guys, and we love the game. We’re genuinely passionate about what we do, and the conversation comes back to that because it’s everything to us. Nick grew into one of my best friends during my time here, and Zack was four years older than me and we’ve become better friends the last few years. You can always pick up the phone and call Nick, call Chris, call Ronnie, call Zack and say, ‘Hey, how do I do this? How did you handle this particular part of the game that I can’t figure out right now?’ And those guys are your best friends as well. It’s been an honor and a blessing to have those guys in my life and to know you can count on them.

It’s a good thing for people to recognize how good you could be. At the same time I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the preseason polls. We’ve got a lot to prove and we fell short of some things last year that were disappointing and we don’t want to have those things happen again. We definitely have the people and the talent and the character to do what we know we can do-what we have to do is take care of our own business each and every day and the rest will fall into place.

Just because I’m a senior I don’t try to act any differently than I did when I was a first-year player. It’s just the natural progression of how things are done here. It’s about making sure everybody’s on the right track and everybody’s taken care of–and I try to be the same guy every day. I have a little more responsibility and I want that ââ’¬” it comes with the territory of being a little older, being a little better player. And knowing how to do things and helping everybody come along with me.

We had a ton of guys rotate in and play last year and a lot of guys got a lot of experience they might not ordinarily have seen. They got a taste of what happens on Saturday. That’s what we work for and that’s what we do. It’ll be a big deal for us this year having that kind of experience.

–Edited by John Heisler, senior associate athletics director