NC State redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Glennon and his 2008 recruiting classmates know that their time has arrived.
When Glennon looked out during the first spring practice Tuesday, he saw a lot of his friends in the 2008 class starting to take over significant roles like himself. Glennon has been elevated to first-string quarterback with returning starter Russell Wilson concentrating on baseball this spring with the hopes of getting drafted in June.
The 2008 class was a special group because it was coach Tom O'Brien's first full recruiting class, and came in with the promise of being the foundation of a future winning program. Rivals.com ranked the haul No. 31 in the country.
"We all know that pretty much the time is now for us," Glennon said. "We are excited about the future, but more excited about this upcoming season. I think our class is very good, but so are all the other classes. It's fun seeing all the guys that I came in with to finally be doing well and start excelling."
The Wolfpack signed 26 players in 2008, and 16 are with the Wolfpack this spring, while another will arrive in the fall - junior college wide receiver Tobais Palmer. Returning starting fullback Taylor Gentry also arrived with Glennon and has worked his way up from walk-on to scholarship player.
The lanky 6-foot-6, 217-pound Glennon has taken on a more active leadership role, which is easier with many of his peers playing on offensive. Offensive linemen Andrew Wallace, Zach Allen, Sam Jones, and when healthy, R.J. Mattes, were all signed in 2008, though Jones' arrival was delayed because of academics. Current junior wide receiver T.J. Graham and redshirt sophomore running back Brandon Barnes have also cracked the two deep. Tight end Mario Carter, also a redshirt sophomore, isn't practicing this spring because of an August knee injury, but he could also be an impact player when he returns.
"There are a lot of [new] guys, and I recognize most of them," said Glennon, who has gained 15 pounds since the end of last season. "There are new guys, but I'm also real comfortable with them. The line, four out of five guys are in my class, and guys that came with me. We are young, but we have experience and potential.
"Coming in, a lot of them had a lot of talent. A lot of them showed it on the field, like in T.J.'s sake, his true freshman year. Other guys like R.J. Mattes and Andrew Wallace showed it last year."
Glennon played a few series here and there last year for the 5-7 Wolfpack, but his learning curve will speed up being the only scholarship quarterback playing this spring. He went 24 of 39 for 248 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions last year.
"This is the best thing for me," said Glennon about handling the extra reps. "I've been given an opportunity with Russell not being here, to get all the snaps with the ones this spring. I have to take advantage of it and make the most of it."
O'Brien was encouraged by what he saw of Glennon during Tuesday's practice.
"He's a good player and this will really benefit him a lot," O'Brien said. "He's getting a lot of time to throw, and he's getting a lot of attention, coaching-wise. He should get better and better each and every day. It should be really important to him that he studies the game. Today, I don't think he made a bad decision. Whatever the coverage dictated, he threw the ball in the right direction. It's just a matter of getting the timing down with the receivers."
Glennon, who Rivals.com ranked the No. 3 pro-style quarterback coming out of Centreville (Va.) Westfield High, is blessed with a strong arm and can make all the throws from the pocket. Another side effect of Wilson's absence is that he can also show his teammates that he has the intangibles to one day be a winner.
"I think just having the guys know that I'm capable of being the guy, whether or not Russell comes back," Glennon said. "I just have to be comfortable with them, and they have to be comfortable with me.
"I have the confidence to be the starter no matter what decision he [O'Brien] makes. I just want to come out here every day and be ready as if I am the guy."
Glennon admits that game experience is what he needs more than anything. The last time he played was in garbage time against Virginia Tech. He went 1 of 3 for 11 yards in the 38-10 loss in Blacksburg, Va., which is where his older brother, Sean Glennon, played.
"Playing on Saturday's, you can't really translate that to the practice field," Glennon said. "This is the closest thing to getting the reps I missed last year and my redshirt season.
"I looked forward to that game [vs. Virginia Tech] since I found out we were playing them. It was a lot of fun to go back down there and see all the coaches I know down there, and a lot of my friends. All my family was there."
Glennon was also happy to see offensive coordinator Dana Bible out on the practice field Tuesday. Bible also coaches the quarterbacks and wide receivers.
"We aren't really allowed to work too much with him, but it's good to see him back out here and be his normal self," Glennon said. "He's one of the best quarterback coaches around. He is going to prepare me to be a really good quarterback."