With football season winding to a close, local sports fans are turning their attention to something familiar this spring: more football.
It’s not a game or a season they’re looking forward to, though; it’s the NFL Draft. While football junkies across the country will clamor to find out which players land on their beloved teams, fans in Fairfax County will be curious to see which team lands Mike Glennon, a former Westfield High standout making his case as one of the best quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class. Some experts are predicting Glennon will be the first signal-caller taken off the board, meaning he could end up in the mix for a starting job in his rookie season this fall.
Coming off a senior season at N.C. State in which he threw for 4,031 yards, 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, the Centreville native finds himself trying to impress NFL scouts before the Draft arrives on April 25. Talent evaluators like the size and arm strength they see in a 6-foot-6, 232-pound quarterback who spent his time at N.C. State thriving in a pro-style West Coast offense, a system similar to many run in the NFL.
Things are unfolding at the speed of a blitz-happy NFL linebacker for Glennon these days, but he says his career to this point has prepared him to take on the challenges ahead.
“Of course I dreamed [of going to the NFL], but I didn’t really know what to expect when I got to college,” Glennon said. “I felt that my whole high school career really prepared me to develop into a college quarterback, and then once I got to college I prepared to develop into an NFL quarterback. Westfield definitely prepared me to have success at the college level, and I think N.C. State prepared me to have success at the NFL level.”
On his way to being ranked as one of the top high school recruits in the country, Glennon embarked on a stellar senior season that saw him throw for 2,557 yards and 32 touchdowns in leading Westfield to its most recent state championship title in 2007. He went on to redshirt his first year at N.C. State before backing up current Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson in 2009 and 2010. Glennon threw for 7,085 yards, 62 touchdowns and 29 interceptions during his two subsequent seasons as a starter.
Glennon’s latest test came in Mobile, Ala., at last Saturday’s Senior Bowl, a showcase of standout college seniors hoping to turn pro. Playing under Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, Glennon got the starting nod in the North’s 21-16 defeat against the Detroit Lions-coached South team. He struggled in his first two series of the first half but recovered in the first two series of the second half to help produce a touchdown and a field goal. He finished 8 for 16 for 82 yards passing.
Glennon knows his size should serve him well at the next level, but he also recognizes the need to address his shortcomings.
“I need to continue to get more athletic and be more mobile in the pocket and just be more consistent,” Glennon said. “The speed of the game is faster [in the NFL], and it gets more complicated from an offensive scheme standpoint.”
Longtime Westfield football coach Tom Verbanic, who now coaches at Flint Hill, also acknowledges his former quarterback’s need to address speed and footwork. But he says Glennon’s physical gifts outweigh his deficiencies.
“He had the strongest arm I’ve ever seen in high school, and he was just extremely accurate to go along with it,” Verbanic said. “I think he fits into the pro game extremely well... We would laugh because you just don’t see people throwing the ball that way, especially at 6’6”. He would run a hitch and the ball would be out in a heartbeat. It was just amazing to watch.”
Last week’s events at the Senior Bowl, where players ran practices, conducted interviews and interacted with NFL coaches, effectively served as a precursor to the NFL Scouting Combine set for Feb. 20-26. More than 300 prospects will gather in Indianapolis that week to perform rigorous physical and mental tests in front of coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams.
“It’s really mentally draining because you wake up in the morning and you’re busy all day long with practices and meetings,” Glennon said. “And really the hardest part is all the interviews with all the scouts because you have to be on top of your ‘A’ game at all times and show what kind of person you are.”
It won’t be an easy road, but Glennon carries the workhorse mentality needed to excel in the cutthroat competition leading to April’s draft.
“The one thing I would always say about Mike is that it’s not only about his tools; it’s his attitude and his work ethic that make him special also,” Verbanic said. “His work ethic is as good as anyone I’ve ever seen.”