FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Matt Ryan is an idol for many football players, but there's one specific player in this year's NFL Draft who might look up to him more than anyone, even though he's actually taller than him.
In fact, one of the first things that comes after someone mentions Mike McGlinchey's name in this pre-draft process is that he's the first cousin of Ryan. And the Notre Dame standout takes great pride in that because Ryan has been and will always be his idol.
"It's been the Mike McGlinchey, Matt Ryan's first cousin, ever since I was in high school," McGlinchey said. "I'm very thankful for that. Matt has guided me every step of the way whether he knew it or not. Just watching the way Matt goes about his business the way that he works. The way that people respect him is something that I've always worked for. He's been my football hero ever since I was a little kid."
Standing at 6-foot-8 and 312 pounds, McGlinchey is one of this year's top draft prospects at his position. He is projected to be a top-15 draft pick in several mock drafts. AtlantaFalcons.com's Matt Tabeek projects McGlinchey to go in the top five of his most recent mock draft.
McGlinchey not only possesses the technique and instincts needed to be a starting tackle in the NFL, he says that he's also learned from watching his cousin over the years exactly how to conduct himself off-the-field.
In fact, it was the moment Ryan got drafted that McGlinchey set a goal to play in the NFL one day and everything Ryan has done since then, McGlinchey has taken note of.
"When he got drafted to the pros when I was an eighth grader, it was at that moment that I said, 'You know what, I want to do that too,'" McGlinchey said. "Everything I've ever learned from him has been great. The experience and the values he's taught me have been invaluable whether he's directly said things to me or not."
It didn't take McGlinchey long at all to recall one of his favorite moments with Ryan.
McGlinchey and Ryan were vacationing back on the East Coast and McGlinchey, a high school tight end at the time who had already committed to Notre Dame, wanted to get a workout in together.
"I was running routes for him and he was throwing balls over my head and I was like, 'What are you doing?' He's like, 'That's where Julio (Jones) goes up and gets it,'" McGlinchey said. "I said, 'Alright bro, I'm not that guy.' But that was really cool."
After they were done with their workout at a local park and people started recognizing Ryan, McGlinchey closely watched the way his older cousin interacted with others.
"He's the most gracious guy ever," McGlinchey said. "He knows that the things football brings you are really, really special. He stops and takes pictures and [gives] autographs with whoever. That kind of respect and genuine appreciation for the people around you in this game is really something I value a lot from Matt, too."