Fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon has every reason to be distracted right now. He is a hot name heading into April's NFL Draft, being called a first-round draft pick and possibly the first signal caller taken off the board by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr.. He was also recently selected to the prestigious Senior Bowl, the annual all-star game for top NFL prospects.
He's about the be closely examined and scrutinized at every possible angle — that process has probably already started — by almost every NFL squad, and the final destination will have a huge impact on the rest of his life.
However, the NC State field general, who ranks in the top five of every major passing category in school history and is in the midst of one of the program's finest seasons of all time, is focused squarely on Vanderbilt, the Pack's upcoming opponent in the Music City Bowl.
After a recent practice, the majority of questions fielded by Glennon were not about the upcoming game, but he kept bringing the conversation back to the game that awaits next Monday. He insists that everything else can wait.
"We're looking forward to the game in Nashville," he said. "I think it's a game that we're all looking forward to — the city, everything they offer and playing against an SEC opponent in Vanderbilt. We're real excited about our opportunity and we think it's going to be a real good game.
"It's exciting [to be called a first-round draft pick], but I know it's a long four or five months. A lot can change in that time and this bowl game has a big impact on that. I'm going to worry about this bowl game, and I'll worry about all the other stuff when the time comes.
"I know this game is important for me and for the program."
The 6-foot-6, 232-pound fifth-year senior leaves quite a legacy behind on the football field and earned a pair of degrees, including a Master's in Liberal Arts, during his time in Raleigh. He leads the ACC and ranks 11th in the country with an average of 304.0 passing yards per game, the second-best mark in school history, in addition to 30 touchdowns, which makes him the first in Wolfpack annals to tally at least that number in multiple seasons. Glennon and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, who also accomplished the feat this year, are the only players in ACC history to ever do so.
Despite just two years as the starter, the Centreville, Va., native ranks third on the Wolfpack's career list for 300-yard games (7) and touchdown passes (62), trailing only NFL starters Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers, while he ranks fourth in passing yards (7,028), completions (611), attempts (1,016), completion percentage (.601) and total offense (6,787). He ranks fifth in career passer rating (132.87).
Glennon ranks third nationally in passing yards on third down this year with 1,017. In the red zone, he is equally effective, going 30-of-52 (.577) for 202 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception.
"I came here in win a championship, we obviously didn't do that, but from an academic, social and football standpoint, I did most of what I wanted to do," he said. "I just would've liked to have won a few championships, but overall, I thought I had a real good experience here."
Both coaches and talent evaluators, like Kiper, see a bright future ahead for Glennon, who is being compared to quarterbacks like the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan, a pupil of Tom O'Brien and Dana Bible, the Pack's offensive coordinator and acting head coach in the bowl game, at Boston College.
Kiper ranks Glennon as the No. 3 senior quarterback available in the upcoming draft, while ESPN's Scouts, Inc. ranks him as the No. 34 overall available prospect with a grade of 88 percent.
"He's got the size, he's got the arm," Kiper said. "He's got the mobility within the framework of the pocket, the maneuverability in the pocket. He didn't have a great supporting cast around him. I would say Mike Glennon has a very good chance to emerge as maybe a top-15 pick and certainly be the first quarterback off the board."
"I've been very fortunate to coach Mike," Bible said. "He's a youngster that came to us six years ago in the recruiting process. The truth of the matter is, he recruited us as much as we recruited him. He had a plan from the very beginning. He and Coach O'Brien also had a plan, the plan has played true. He's developed into a heck of a college player and — I don't have a crystal ball — but I believe that he has a great future. I just feel really fortunate to have a chance to have coached him."
Wilson, another famous Bible pupil, is currently tearing up the NFL as a rookie for the Seattle Seahawks, and they have clinched a playoff berth, while the young signal caller is just one touchdown pass shy of tying Peyton Manning's record record of 26.
Glennon noted that his former teammate's immediate success is a confidence booster as he heads into that portion of his football career.
"I'm real proud of him, real happy for him," Glennon said. "He's doing great. He's a Rookie of the Year candidate and deserves what he has done. He works his butt off and it's kind of neat for me to see that I followed him and could be in a similar situation next year."
"The offense that we run here is a pro-style offense," Bible noted. "Part of the transition for Mike and part of the transition that Russell is going through — and you can go back a few more years to Matt Ryan — what you see is they get up to speed quicker because they're coming from this kind of background, offensively.
"The plays that we run are the plays that are run on Sunday — I'm not saying that's better or worse, but that's the style that we are, so they transition sometimes faster and sometimes better than maybe somebody who has been in the shotgun and run a certain type of offense. They're starting at a different level. The transition right there is maybe a little quicker because they've got five years of this."
Repaying the coaching staff for putting him on the path to NFL success is another reason that Glennon is so focused on getting a win in the Music City Bowl.
"In the Bowl game, I want to win for NC State's sake," he said. "It's our last time playing together, it's the last time with the coaching staff, so we want it for that reason. I also know it's very important for me moving forward, scouts are going to look at it, then I'm going to have to start getting ready for the next chapter in my life.
"I think it'd be really special [to get a win for the coaching staff]. They've done a great job, they've done so much for our seniors and everyone in this program. We want to send them out the right way and Coach O'Brien will be in our thoughts when we play that game."
After the bowl is over, Glennon hopes to follow the trails blazed by Wilson and Rivers, who used the Senior Bowl as a spring board for NFL success. The game will be played in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 26, and it will be broadcast on NFL Network.
"I've got a lot coming up," he said. "I'm looking forward to it all, starting with the bowl game. I think that's the most important thing for me, ending on a high note. We'll worry about everything else when the time comes.
"I've heard about [Rivers'] path to the NFL, and how the senior bowl really helped him out. I guess we had similar situations, and I'm pretty sure he closed out his senior year with a win. I'm looking forward to following on the same path he did."