Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sean Glennon: It Began at Age 9

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 15 -- Sean Glennon made himself wait up. Sure, he was only in third grade, and, yeah, the clock crept toward 11 p.m. But Glennon had his routine, and he was going to stick with it, bedtimes be hanged.

He loved football and wanted to be a quarterback someday, and he realized work had to be done for that to happen. Every night, he did 100 sit-ups, 50 push-ups and 10 pull-ups, only his small arms couldn't handle the pull-ups alone. His father, John, had to help him.

So Glennon sat in his room -- the posters of Emmitt Smith and Michael Jordan hanging in the background -- and waited for his father to come home from a late dinner with Sean's mother. Finally, around 11, John arrived in Sean's room, where a small pull-up bar stretched across the door frame.

Glennon hoisted himself up as his father held him, and they started counting, all the way to 10. Then, and only then, would Sean go to sleep.

"He knew," John Glennon said. "He had a plan, even at a young age."

Glennon is 20 now, and everything is still going according to plan. After an offseason of competing with Ike Whitaker and Cory Holt for the chance to start at quarterback, Coach Frank Beamer announced Sunday that Glennon had won the job. Glennon, a redshirt sophomore, earned the role thanks to an accurate arm, deceptive athleticism and sound decision-making. But he also won it because of the same driven work ethic and meticulous attention to detail he has always had.

"I guess it's just how I was born," Glennon said. "I just like things in order. I like knowing where things are. Even now in college, I hate messy rooms."

His major is finance, so technical that it suits him perfectly. Growing up, Glennon always had the cleanest room in his house. He made his bed every morning from the time he was 5 years old, with no pleading from his parents.

John Glennon would find lists Sean made of his 20 favorite football players, ranked in a constantly updated order, lying around the house. And that wasn't enough; Sean Glennon would ask everyone their favorite football players. He asked houseguests. He asked opposing base runners from center field during Little League games. He knew his list; shouldn't they?
"He sees life in black in white," John Glennon said. "He just has a very analytical mind."
But one not devoid of passion. When Glennon lost a game of cards or Monopoly as a kid, he would throw a tantrum. If he lost a shooting contest before a basketball practice in high school, he stayed mad the whole practice. He sometimes wakes up his roommate, wide receiver Justin Born, in the middle of the night, screaming at his television because he lost a video game.
"He's one of the most competitive guys I know," Born said.

That nature helped him become a star at Westfield High, a school that was brand new when he arrived and a Virginia state champion when he left. When colleges came calling, Glennon studied the quarterback depth charts at each possible school, sizing up who was there and when they would leave. He left no scenario overlooked.

It came down to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and he chose the Hokies because he sensed in Blacksburg a family atmosphere, to him an important part of a football team. John's career at ExxonMobil forced the family to move three times during Sean's childhood. He lived in Texas, New Jersey, Texas again and finally Centreville in ninth grade.

At each stop, football became his social outlet, the place where he met all his friends. He met Born and Virginia Tech wide receiver Eddie Royal at Westfield. Royal and Glennon became fast friends, a relationship forged by endless hours of throwing and catching during the offseason. Royal came with the Glennons when they visited Wake Forest and North Carolina on recruiting trips.

They room together with Born now, and they bought dogs together, a pair of puggles that drive Born crazy.

"He's just Sean to me," Royal said. "I don't know how to put it into words."

Glennon's chemistry with Royal carried over from Westfield, something Glennon strives for with all his receivers. Though he can be fiery, John Glennon never once saw Sean admonish a teammate over a mistake.

Funny, then, that he earned the chance to win his starting spot because of a teammate's dismissal. Marcus Vick would be Virginia Tech's starting quarterback, likely a front-runner for postseason awards, if not for his pattern of misbehavior on and off the field.

When Virginia Tech dismissed Vick, Glennon changed his mentality. He focused on starting and becoming more of a leader. Always a proficient lifter -- he can bench press 350 pounds and run the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds -- Glennon spent even more time in the weight room. He stayed in Blacksburg over the summer, throwing passes to Royal and hitting the weights.

"I think it's a bittersweet feeling," Glennon said. "I actually really liked Marcus. I thought he was a good guy, and a very good player. I loved watching him. I didn't want to see him go like that. But at the same time, it opened up a door for me."

He understood the chance to lead his own college football team, to realize the dream he had nurtured since grade school. And now, Glennon is waiting no more.

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