Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs rookie Glennon prepped for any test
There's no stopping it now. The seeds have already been planted. All that's needed now is for Josh Freeman to throw one interception — or maybe just one bad pass — and a Buccaneers quarterback controversy will begin to grow.
No matter how big or small it becomes, the quarterback on the other end of this inevitable ensuing debate is ready. Mike Glennon has been through this before.
Oh, has he ever been through this before.
It was the spring of 2011. North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien was over quarterback Russell Wilson's dalliance with baseball, so he decided to release him from the team, knowing he had Glennon waiting in the wings.
Talk about being thrust into a tough spot. Wilson was coming off a year in which he had guided N.C. State to a 9-4 season (its best in five years) and had led the ACC in passing yards per game (274.1) and total yards per game (307.5).
But O'Brien believed the Wolfpack would be better off with Glennon running the offense for two years than it would be with Wilson running it for one, and despite the angst his decision generated, he might have been right.
While Wilson was finishing off his college career at Wisconsin and starting what is already a notable pro career with the Seattle Seahawks, Glennon was producing in two years the kind of stats that Wilson produced in three.
For example, the 7,085 yards Glennon threw for during the 2011 and 2012 seasons rank fourth all time in N.C. State annals, right behind the 8,545 yards that Wilson produced as State's starter from 2008-10.
Glennon also finished his Wolfpack career ranked fourth behind Wilson in school history with 1,069 career pass attempts, third behind Wilson with 646 career completions and third behind Wilson with 63 career touchdown passes.
You see those numbers and you can see not only why the Bucs spent a third-round pick in last week's NFL draft on Glennon, but how that decision could easily develop into a full-blown quarterback controversy.
Though the Bucs have made it clear that Freeman is their starter, Glennon's history suggests he could do the same thing for them that Wilson did for the Seahawks, which is take over as a starter and lead them to the playoffs.
“Look, if something were to happen to Josh Freeman, we want to have a chance to keep the season rolling and going, and we feel like Mike's got the talent and the ability to do that,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said.
“Let's face it, this is a quarterback-driven league, and so any time you have a chance to bring a guy into your organization that you think can develop and has the talent and character you want, you try to do it.''
Glennon began passing character tests at the same time he began passing talent tests, proving amid a flurry of questions and detractors during the 2011 season that he could indeed do for the Wolfpack exactly what Wilson had done.
A year after Wilson led N.C. State to its second bowl game in five years, Glennon used his big arm to make it two bowl appearances in a row, guiding the Wolfpack through an 8-5 season in which he completed 283 of 453 passes (62.5 percent) for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns.
But there's more to the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Glennon than just an NFL-caliber throwing arm. He was a team captain and a leader in the classroom as well, earning a bachelor's degree in business management and a master's degree in liberal studies.
“I tried to make the most of my opportunity with a free education, and I think I set myself up to get a pretty good job somewhere, football or not,'' Glennon said. “But I'm hoping I don't have to worry about that for a while.''
He probably won't. Though Glennon still needs some polishing — most scouts say he needs to improve his footwork and throwing mechanics — he already has a working knowledge of some of the more difficult aspects of the position.
“We ran a pro style offense (at N.C. State), so I've been dealing with protections and concepts that are used on Sunday since I was 18 years old, and I think that kind of gives me a jump on some things,'' Glennon said.
“But that's one of the reasons I went there. My head coach and offensive coordinator (Dana Bible) coached Matt Ryan at Boston College and then Russell, and they didn't disappoint me.''
Glennon didn't disappoint them either. The Wolfpack compiled a 15-11 record and went to two bowl games (the Belk in 2011 and the Music City in 2012) with Glennon at the helm.
That helped quiet the controversy over his selection as the starter over Wilson, but Glennon admits that he learned just as much from playing behind Wilson as he did playing in place of him.
“As a competitor, you want to be out on the field, and those years were tough in that regard, but learning from Russell was a great experience,'' Glennon said. “He does all the right things, both on and off the field.
“He's an extremely sharp guy, he works really hard with his preparation in the weight room and in meetings and on the practice field, and so it doesn't come as a great surprise to me that he's doing so well.''
Glennon and Wilson have remained close friends through their separation, so much so that Glennon often reaches out to Wilson for advice. He even did that before arriving in Tampa for this week's rookie minicamp.
“I just wanted to pick his mind before I got here and see how he kind of handled things when he went to Seattle last year,'' Glennon said. “He just told me to take it one day at a time and worry about getting better each and every day and not worry about the long run.
“He said that if you just concentrate on getting better each and every day, eventually good things are going to happen for you, and I thought that was great advice, so I'll take it.''