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Football

McGlinchey, Nelson shine at Notre Dame Pro Day

| Friday, March 23, 2018

With a little over a month until the first day of the 2018 NFL Draft, nine former Irish athletes returned to campus Thursday to participate in Notre Dame’s Pro Day at Loftus Sports Center.

After a 2017 draft in which they saw just two former players have their names called, the Irish are expected to have that many players drafted in the first round of this year’s draft, as former offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey have received plenty of attention in the months leading up to April 26’s first round.

Nelson, who played guard for the Irish, is expected to go as high as the top 10. If he did so, he would be the first guard drafted that high since Jonathan Cooper went No. 7 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Rosie LoVoi | The Observer

Former Irish running back Josh Adams works out during Notre Dame’s pro day on Thursday at Loftus Sports Complex. Adams was Notre Dame’s leading rusher in 2017.

“He’s one of the best out there,” McGlinchey said of Nelson. “ … His play speaks for itself. He’s as good as it gets when it comes to offensive line play, probably in the history of college football, and sky’s the limit for him. He’s going to be a great NFL football player, and I’m sure teams are really salivating over the chance to play with him.”

In Thursday’s Pro Day, Nelson only participated in the position drills, and afterward said he thought the draft process has been going well.

“It’s been fun. It’s been a great experience, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Nelson said. “ … I put myself in this position by working very hard, and I’ve earned this.”

McGlinchey also only participated in the position drills, and he said it was a good experience being put to the test by different coaches, but he’s just looking forward to finding out where he’ll be at the next stage of his career and getting back to the field.

“It’s going to a fun next month or so getting ready for the next step,” McGlinchey said. “I’m just ready to find out what team I’m going to be playing for and start playing football again.”

Nelson and McGlinchey were not the only offensive players to come back to campus for the Pro Day, however. They were joined by tight end Durham Smythe, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and running back Josh Adams. St. Brown and Adams, as underclassmen who declared early for the draft, both said they feel the process has gone well and have been happy with their decisions. For Adams, the decision came knowing he was ready for the next step and after getting feedback from his support system.

“It was just about me and what I felt was best for me,” Adams said. “Just talking with my family, talking with the coaches here, just getting some feedback from them, knowing I had their support in either decision that I would make, whether it would be to leave or to stay. … I felt like I was ready to make that next step.”

Adams participated in every drill except the bench press and 20-yard shuttle, and his best drills were the three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle. His times in both drills would’ve been fastest and second-fastest of the running back position group, respectively, at the NFL Combine, while his 4.48 40-yard dash would have been fifth at the position.

“Overall, felt like everything went well,” Adams said. “Been getting a lot of positive vibes and, again, I’m just blessed to be out here.”

St. Brown, who participated in many of the drills at the combine, kept his participation in Pro Day to the position work and vertical jump. After an impressive sophomore season, he had a down year as a junior with only 33 receptions, 515 yards and four touchdowns. St. Brown said he’s received a lot of questions about his production and passion for the game.

“The most common question I get is, ‘Do [you] love football?’” St. Brown said. “ … I went to Notre Dame, I speak languages, so that’s the most common question I get.”

On the defensive side of the ball, former defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti participated in every drill during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, while linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan participated in every drill but the bench press.

One player who returned to campus for the first time in a while for the day was former Irish quarterback Malik Zaire, who spent the past year as a graduate transfer playing at Florida. He said his time with the Gators was good because it helped him to develop as a quarterback and person.

“No regrets. I feel like I’ve learned so much going through the things I’ve gone through, and that’s made me the person I am today,” Zaire said. “That’s made me a lot stronger as a competitor, and somebody that — I haven’t quit yet, so I’ve got a lot of football left in the tank.”

After participating in most of the day’s drills, Zaire said he thought the day went well and hopes teams will give him the opportunity for visits he hasn’t received yet, especially given the potential he believes he offers anyone at the next level.

“I know I’ve got a lot of football left at the next level,” Zaire said. “ … I feel like I’m the best in the draft at my position, and we’re just going to continue to show that through these next couple weeks.”

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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