Tudor: Final football exams on deck for Glennon

ctudor@newsobserver.comDecember 16, 2012 

— With his newly presented master’s degree in liberal studies tacked atop the business finance undergraduate degree he earned last year, Mike Glennon arrived at football practice Saturday assured of an impressive Plan B.

Plan A for the N.C. State quarterback is a career in the NFL.

In that field, Glennon is just beginning a final exam process that will start against Vanderbilt in the New Year’s Eve Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., followed by the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala., and a likely trip to the NFL talent combine Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis.

“It’s an important period, but the bowl game is all that matters right now,” Glennon said. “I want to win for N.C. State’s sake. It’s our last time playing together. It’s the last time with this coaching staff, so we want to win for that reason.

“But I also know it’s very important for me moving forward. It’s a game the scouts are going to look at … and getting ready for the next chapter in my life.”

Barring something totally unexpected, Glennon will be drafted in the April 25-27 rounds in New York. The question that could be resolved during the next few weeks is which round.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has said Glennon could easily be the first quarterback selected. Other projections have him in a small group of quarterbacks behind West Virginia’s Gino Smith and Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley.

But as Wolfpack interim head coach Dana Bible said Saturday, the bowls have become more important than ever in assessing prospects.

“Especially for the quarterbacks,” said Bible, who will bridge the coaching change from Tom O’Brien to Dave Doeren. “Scouts want to see how a guy can do against quality opponent that has had a lot of preparation time.”

For previous Wolfpack quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson, the bowls were launching pads.

Rivers was most outstanding player in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl and then the top offensive player in the 2004 Senior Bowl.

Wilson had a big performance in a win against West Virginia in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl and another in the Rose Bowl for Wisconsin last season.

Glennon understands the stakes but made it clear Saturday that the game against Vanderbilt is about the Pack and not about himself.

“It’s an important game for this program, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Although the players aren’t saying much about it, they obviously want to win the game in honor of O’Brien, who was fired on No. 25 but spent Friday night with his former players at the team’s graduation banquet.

“It was just nice to see him again and talk to him,” Glennon said. “All of the seniors enjoyed it.”

Eleven of those players graduated Saturday morning. Including three others who graduated in May, the Pack will have 14 graduates in uniform for the Music City Bowl.

Defensive back Earl Wolff, a spring graduate, said the coaches kept the seniors focused on academics throughout the season and it paid off. “It’s been a great weekend,” Wolff said.

Bible credited the seniors’ focus during the past two weeks.

“Sometimes when there’s a coaching change, things can get a little out of order, so we put a lot of emphasis on getting ready for the exams,” Bible said. “The players took a lot of ownership, I think because of how much Tom had stressed graduating since we first got here. He was proud of them. Last night really was special.”

Bowl notes

• Bible will coach and call plays from the press box during the bowl game, keeping the game routine as it was under O’Brien.

“It’s just easier to stay with what we’ve done,” Bible said. “Mike Archer (defensive coordinator) will be in charge on the sidelines.

• Among the weekend grads were several offensive players, including linemen R.J. Mattes, Asa Watson, Camden Wentz, Andrew Wallace and Zach Allen, running backs James Washington and Brandon Barnes and receiver Tobais Palmer.

• Saturday’s practice ended with officials from the Music City Bowl presenting the school with a commemorative bowl guitar, which fullback Logan Winkles attempted to play for a minute or two.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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