TAMPA — Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon is a quick study.
He needed only three years to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance and one year to earn a master’s degree in liberal studies from North Carolina State.
He’s made quick work of the Bucs’ playbook, too.
In just three months, the 2013 third-round draft pick has developed what Tampa Bay offensive architect Mike Sullivan called a “solid grasp’’ and understanding of the Bucs’ attack.
“We’ve thrown a lot at him in a very short period of time between the rookie minicamp and the start of training, and he’s done an excellent job with it,” Sullivan said. “He really puts the extra time in away from the facility. ...
“He’s one of those guys who’s always asking (offensive assistant) Andrew Janocko, ‘Hey, when you get the next day’s install (of plays), can you put it on my iPad for me?’ He’s definitely a student of the game.”
The first exam is tonight.
Though Josh Freeman will start the preseason opener against the Ravens at Raymond James Stadium, Glennon will get the bulk of the work. Make no mistake, the Bucs are Freeman’s team and the season, general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano said, belongs to him.
The preseason, however, belongs to Glennon.
“Definitely, because Mike needs to play — a lot,” Schiano said. “Just to get his feet wet. You want to get the young guy as many under-fire snaps as possible ... where it’s real stuff.’’
Glennon will dip more than just his toes into the water this preseason. The Bucs want to retain the roster flexibility that comes from keeping only two quarterbacks, so their goal is to find out if Glennon can replace Dan Orlovsky as Freeman’s backup.
The spindly 6-foot-6, 225-pound rookie is already displaying signs he could make Orlovsky expendable. The younger brother of Sean Glennon, who played quarterback at Virginia Tech from 2004 to 2008, Glennon has shown he is well-schooled in the mechanics and fundamentals of the quarterback position.
“That was something that jumped out right away to us, even in the spring,’’ Sullivan said.
“His mechanics and his fundamentals are very tight. Pointing his shoulder on his movements, two hands on the ball — he’s very sound.’’
Glennon has quickly proven he’s quite savvy, too. During Tuesday’s workout, Glennon didn’t like the way the offense broke the huddle for a play, so he called the players back and made them go through the process again.
“He’s not afraid to make some corrections and he’ll get on the players if he has to, in a positive way, and that’s good,’’ Sullivan said. “He’s showing some great leadership there.’’
The Bucs expected that. Glennon was a team captain in college, after all.
His ability to move quickly through progressions behind center and throw tight spirals to his targets didn’t come as much of a surprise, either.
Those skills, honed while playing in Dana Bible’s pro-style offense at N.C. State, made Glennon attractive in the first place. The Bucs, however, remain unsure of his athleticism, ability to avoid the rush and accuracy.
Scouts have described Glennon as a slow-footed, below-average athlete and point to his performance at the NFL combine, where Glennon had the worst vertical jump (26 inches), broad jump (8 feet) and three-cone drill time (7.52 seconds) of any quarterback.
Glennon’s three-cone time was the real head-shaker. It suggests, supported by tape from N.C. State, that Glennon has limited ability to move in the pocket to avoid a rush or buy time to make a play.
There also is concern about Glennon’s 58.5 completion percentage as a senior, though Wolfpack tape suggests dropped passes were part of the problem.
In all of those areas, though, Glennon has done some things to alleviate the Bucs’ concerns.
“He’ll be the first to say he’s not the world’s smoothest athlete,’’ Sullivan said. “But he does have very good feet and he sets his platform well. He’s shown us that in practice. But now he has to take the next step.
“We have to see how he does now when (pass rushers) aren’t tagging off on the quarterback or just running right by him, when they’re coming right at you, right at your feet.’’
Glennon also is eager to see how he fares.
Though his college study habits suggest otherwise, the bulk of his life’s work so far has been geared toward becoming a starting-caliber NFL quarterback.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of new things going on out there that I haven’t experienced before, so it will be a good learning experience for me,’’ Glennon said.
“The key for me, I think, is just to treat it like anything else. I have to try and treat it like I’m out at practice. I have to make sure my mind stays in the right place and that I focus on each play and just take it one play at a time.’’
Glennon believes his off-field study habits will help him. The extra time he’s put in learning the playbook is already allowing him to play quicker and more naturally. The Bucs will be looking for that natural approach.
“We want to make sure his decision making is what we want it to be,’’ Sullivan said. “And then we’re looking forward to seeing his command of the offense, his tempo in and out of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.
“Is he doing the things we want him to do with regard to checking to protections and just having that command, because this is a system that takes a while to get familiar with.’’