Glennon the new leader of the ‘Pack

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RALEIGH  — For the first time, Mike Glennon isn’t facing a familiar obstacle to playing time at North Carolina State.
No longer is he just a potential-laden backup to Russell Wilson, the three-year starter and two-sport standout who transferred to Wisconsin during the offseason.
Now, the job clearly is Glennon’s.
The redshirt junior and prototypical pocket passer took his first official snaps as the unquestioned starter Tuesday when the Wolfpack began preseason practice.
“That’s what I came here for — I came here to be the starting quarterback,” Glennon said. “Now my time has come.”
Glennon — who has a 6-foot-6 frame, a smooth delivery and a towering presence in the pocket — spent most of the past three years patiently waiting on the bench while Wilson solidified himself as one of the top quarterbacks in school history.
“I’m excited for him because I know that he’s waited his turn, he’s been patient, he’s worked very hard to understand the offense,” coach Tom O’Brien said. “He’s just one of 11 that have got to be out there. Ten guys have to rally around (him) and 11 guys have got to do the job if we’re going to be any good on offense.”
Especially because last year remains so fresh in the minds of the Wolfpack.
With Wilson — a former Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year — calling the signals, N.C. State had its best year since Philip Rivers was around in 2002, finishing 9-4 with a Champs Sports Bowl win over West Virginia.
Glennon redshirted in 2008 and was relegated mostly to mop-up duty during the past two seasons, completing 33 of 52 career passes in 10 career games for 326 total yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Still, he showed enough flashes of the promise that made him a highly recruited high school player.
“I go deep,” said receiver and best friend T.J. Graham, “he throws it deep.”
And after Wilson’s latest dalliances with pro baseball, N.C. State opted to put its future in Glennon’s untested hands.
O’Brien said on signing day in February that he was prepared to move forward with Glennon. During spring practice, Glennon solidified himself as the clear No. 1 quarterback while Wilson was across the state playing second base for the Colorado Rockies’ farm team in Asheville.
N.C. State’s decision became final two weeks after the spring game when it released Wilson from his scholarship. After hitting .228 in 61 games in Asheville, Wilson walked away from baseball for a while and opted to play his final college season for the Badgers.
The decision to let Wilson leave and stick with Glennon can’t help but put extra pressure on both players this season, but N.C. State’s new starter says he can’t let it affect him.
“No matter who the quarterback is, there’s going to be pressure,” Glennon said. “It just comes with the territory of being the quarterback, week in, week out.”
A few hours before practice began, the Wolfpack named tight end George Bryan and defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy as their team captains. Bryan has caught 13 touchdown passes and is a preseason all-ACC pick. Sweezy had 13 tackles for a loss and a team-best six sacks last season.