The ACC has taken some knocks in the media and elsewhere over its lack of big-time success in football in recent years. If there was a year to turn it around, 2012 could be one thanks in large part to a strong collection of quarterbacks in the conference.
NC State fifth-year senior Mike Glennon knows that he could post all-conference numbers and not get honored.
"I can't think of a conference that might be stronger than us," Glennon noted. "Me and [FSU QB] E.J. [Manuel] were talking about it earlier. In our class we had a lot of highly recruited guys here in the ACC. I can think alone in my class in the Elite 11 we had me, E.J., Sean Renfree and Kyle Parker, even though he's not here anymore. We're all in our later years. I feel like it's definitely got to be one the best [groups] in the country."
Manuel and Renfree are two of 11 returning starters in the conference, and the 12th school, Miami, is expected to utilize Stephen Morris, who has starting experience.
Glennon believes that after going through last season, during which he completed 283 of 453 passes for 3,054 yards and 31 touchdowns with 12 picks, that he can compete with any other signal caller in the conference.
"I think there is always something to prove, but I think with my caliber of play I can compete against the best," Glennon noted. "I feel confident in myself to be as good as anybody. I work to be the best, that's my goal.
"It is a very talented group of quarterbacks. I think there is a whole bunch of guys that are probably talented enough to be all-conference and I know that's not going to be the case here. I am not going to worry about those accolades. I am just going to work to be the best quarterback I can be and lead my team to victory."
Glennon's mindset is more focused on a big senior season that he believes has the potential to produce winning results on the field.
"I feel like the games we lost we were very inconsistent whether we'd start good, finish bad or start slow and we were playing catch-up every game," Glennon said. "[Our goal is to] just play four quarters from start to finish on all three sides of the ball. I feel like we have the talent to do it, and I feel like there is not a team on the schedule that we can't beat."
With seven starters back on offense and defense and both kickers returning, optimism is high at NC State. The Pack has ranked borderline preseason top 25 in some of the early polls and have been labeled a darkhorse in the ACC.
Glennon knows though that State is not going to sneak up on anyone.
"I think within the conference people know who we are," he noted.
- The biggest question mark on offense this season is wide receiver, but don't tell that to Glennon. He noted that was the same chatter last fall, but departed seniors T.J. Graham and Jay Smith stepped up and had big seasons.
"I think this year will be no different with Tobais [Palmer] who showed his playmaking abilities last year and Bryan [Underwood], who got the start against Virginia out of nowhere and had two touchdowns," Glennon noted. "Quintin Payton and Rashard Smith, those are guys eager to get out on the field and contribute after not playing as much in the past.
"I've worked with them all summer and I feel extremely confident in them."
- Glennon was asked what was the most gratifying and disappointing moments of his first season as State's starting quarterback.
Gratifying: Winning the last two games over Clemson and Maryland at home to get bowl eligible.
Disappointing: The inconsistency, especially after beating UNC and then showing up flat at Boston College a week later in what was believed to be almost a must-win.
- Glennon is not the only big-name quarterback in the area. Duke returns Renfree while UNC has Bryn Renner. Glennon noted that because he is from the same area as Renner he has been competing with him since the days of little league basketball.
The two shared a plane ride together when they attended the Mannings summer camp for quarterbacks. Glennon also participated in the Elite 11 camp over the summer.
"The Mannings, we got to work with [Peyton] and Eli a little bit, but there was an hour question and answer [session] with them where we could ask anything," Glennon recalled. "Just to have their input about their approach to the game was really helpful to me.
"At the Elite 11 I was getting personal instruction from guys like Trent Dilfer and [Ken] O'Brien, just having their insight of some things I could work on was a big help for me and something I could take forward going into the season."
- Glennon received the obligatory Russell Wilson question. His answer:
"I try not to worry about that too much. My personality is laid back, try to go with the flow. Although I knew that would be a distraction to some I try to push it aside and not really worry about it. I think it worked out for both of us. Obviously he had a great year, and now we don't have to worry about that."
- Most random question of the day came from the Raleigh News and Observer's Caulton Tudor, asking what Glennon thought about the potential of Notre Dame joining the ACC:
"I haven't really thought about it, but from a historical standpoint yeah they are historically one of the most prestigious programs in the country. I think they'd be a great addition to the ACC. They are a top-notch academic school like most of the teams in the ACC are. I don't see why it would be anything but positive."
- Glennon's least effective game last season probably came at Florida State when he completed just 19 of 34 passes for 130 yards with two interceptions. He has a feeling that 2012, when FSU comes to Raleigh, will be different.
"I feel like that was a different speed than I have ever played, and now I know what to expect when we play them," Glennon stated. "I am looking forward to that opportunity again. It's the closest game we'll face to an NFL defense. They got talented guys. I don't know how many draft picks they are going to have but I am sure they are going to have a lot."