Nov. 6, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Mike Glennon remembers the first time his family pulled into the parking lot at the Murphy Center at Carter-Finley Stadium. It was a perfect spring weekend, one of those April afternoons when the dogwoods and azaleas were in bloom and the future couldn’t be brighter for a lanky kid from northern Virginia.
“Right away, my parents said ‘This could definitely be the school for you,’” Glennon said. “I met with the coaches and right then and there I knew this was the place I needed to be.”
Glennon was already aware of what was then a relatively new coaching staff at NC State. Tom O’Brien had begun recruiting Glennon while he was still the head coach at Boston College. At the time, Glennon was known mostly for being the kid brother of Virginia Tech starting quarterback Sean Glennon.
But O’Brien and his longtime offensive coordinator Dana Bible saw a perfect fit for the system they used with great success for nearly a decade in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
“I liked the style of offense that they ran and their history of developing quarterbacks,” Glennon said. “That’s something that got my attention. I met with the coaches, looked around at the program and I knew this was the place for me.”
There were detours along the way. When Glennon arrived in Raleigh, in O’Brien’s second season, there were no less than five players vying to be the Wolfpack’s starting quarterback. One of them was Russell Wilson, a redshirt freshman who not only won the job after Glennon and the staff made the decision for the true freshman to redshirt his initial season, but also became the first freshman quarterback in ACC history to win first-team all-conference honors.
“It was a close race, but at the same time, I didn’t feel completely comfortable being in that position, as a true freshman,” Glennon said. “I think as a quarterback, it is beneficial to redshirt, to sit back and learn about the speed of the game and all the things you have to know as a quarterback.”
Glennon had grown up in the shadow of a talented quarterback. He chose the position after competing for years in backyard pickup games with Sean and his friends, who were all at least four years older. When Mike got his chance to play against kids his own age, he was head and shoulders above them – even before he grew into his 6-foot-7 frame.
“I think in middle school was when I was most dominant in sports, because I would play with [Sean and his friends], then go play against people my age,” Glennon said. “It made me a little more competitive than most people.”
Having an older brother playing the sport was important in paving the way for Mike, especially since because of the age difference they never had to compete against each other on the field.
“Sean has helped me so much,” Glennon said. “Having seen his experiences at Virginia Tech, I learned what it was like to be a quarterback in the ACC. There are highs and lows and everything in between. Seeing how things were for him was a huge help for me.”
Sean also taught his younger brother to be patient, to respect the process of the game. That was huge for Glennon as he stayed on the bench for three seasons, while Wilson ran the team.
“I understood from the beginning that it’s a process,” Glennon said. “I felt like I could help the team, but I don’t know to what extent. Things were flying around faster than I have ever experienced. I felt much more comfortable my second year than I did my first.
“Obviously, with that situation, the tough part is that at quarterback only one guy plays. There was a great player in front of me. It was tough knowing that, but that’s part of the position.”
In the end, Glennon knew the best thing he could do was to be ready when his opportunity came. Though he only played in 10 games as a reserve his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, he never saw himself as an inactive reserve.
“I always prepared like I was going to be the starter,” Glennon said. “I knew if I got an opportunity to go in … I was going to succeed. Each week, I prepared like I was going to be the guy. I think that really helped me. I learned more about the game, and I learned from Russell in how he approached the game, how hard he worked in the weight room, how he practiced and prepared.
“That was something special.”
In the end, Glennon knew he would have, at most, 28 chances as NC State’s starting quarterback to create his own legacy. And he’s made the most of that opportunity.
In his first year as a starter, he threw 31 touchdown passes, which is second only to Philip Rivers in NC State history. So far this season, with at least five games remaining, he has added 19 more, including tying a school record with five against North Carolina this season.
He has one of the highest completion percentages in school history and he will finish his career ranked highly in the record books with names like Rivers, Wilson, Erik Kramer and Roman Gabriel, all NC State quarterbacks who went on to play in the NFL.
In other words, he’s doing exactly what O’Brien expected of him when the coach first saw Glennon play as a high school quarterback in Centreville, Va.
“He’s very confident in what he’s doing and our team has a lot of confidence in him,” O’Brien said. “He’s performing at a high level.”
Glennon hopes to play at even a higher level once his Wolfpack football career ends. But he’s been sure to take advantage of the opportunity his football scholarship has afforded him to get an advanced education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance long ago, and will earn his master’s degree in liberal studies in December.
He believes he’s well-prepared, not just for a professional football career, should he have that opportunity, but also a successful business career.
“I never expected to come in and earn a master’s degree,” Glennon said. “I came in with a good academic standing, never dropped a class and stayed on schedule. It worked out that I was ahead of schedule, so I figured I might as well take advantage of my scholarship to get that advanced degree.”
As Glennon’s long-awaited career comes to a close, he believes he will leave a legacy that is important for all student-athletes, not just on the field, but also in the classroom.
“I would hope people think I did everything in my career the right way, on and off the field,” Glennon said. “As much as I want to be remembered for my skills, I would hope I would also be thought of as a guy who worked hard at being a good player and a good person.”