The football career of Sean Glennon has been one long strange trip indeed. It's a tale punctuated by the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Glennon has been as divisive a figure among the Virginia Tech fan base as any in the modern era, and like so many before him, Sean is largely a victim of poor timing.
His career began in the shadow of Bryan Randall. Randall, as you may remember, struggled a great deal at times during his first three years as the starter for the Hokies, but during his final season he blossomed into the ACC player of the year, and past misgivings were largely forgotten.
Then came the blindingly bright star that was Marcus Vick, a quarterback who dazzled on the field, but allowed himself to burn out oh too soon with questions of "what if?" away from the gridiron.
Enter Sean Glennon. Rated the No. 10 pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals coming into college, expectations were high for the kid from Westfield High School—aided by his choice of the number seven, which had been granted near-mystical powers after gracing the shoulder pads of Michael Vick and Kevin Jones.
Sean's talent has always been evident, and his career numbers at Tech reflect that. Glennon ranks fifth on Tech's all-time passing list with 4,867 passing yards. That's nearly 500 yards ahead of Jim Druckenmiller, who led Tech to consecutive Alliance bowl games in the mid-'90s, and fewer than 1,000 yards behind Maurice DeShazo, Tech's first truly dynamic athlete at quarterback and a big part of the beginning of the Hokies' consecutive bowl streak.
As a starter Glennon is 18-8, good for a .692 winning percentage. That's higher than DeShazo's .586 and Randall's .684. From a pure wins standpoint, Glennon's 18 give him the fifth-most wins by a quarterback under coach Frank Beamer.
He held up under the immense pressure of being the face of Hokie athletics leading up to the first football game after the April 16 shootings. Not to mention he's never been involved in any negative incidents on or off the field.
So why don't people like the kid?
High expectations, coupled with the fact that Sean isn't the fleetest of foot, have conspired against him. His occasionally spotty play has only fueled the fires of critics who maintain he's not very good.
Part of the problem has been the offensive line. It has never been consistently good during Sean's time in the maroon and orange.
"He could be very good," quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said recently regarding Glennon. "I don't know how to say it any better than that. He's very talented. He's very smart. All the things I've said over the years: He's tough, a competitor. You put all those things into a young man, there's no reason he can't be good and wouldn't have been good. So it's just unfortunate he's had to live with, or bear the brunt of [the offensive line] not being exactly where you need to be."
The offensive line aside, there has admittedly always been something holding Glennon back. All the physical tools are there, so it must be a small mental glitch of some kind.
Take for example the best game of Glennon's college career, which came last season at Georgia Tech.
Glennon was one of three Tech players who arrived on game day to find that his jersey had been stolen from his locker. With no extras, Tech's staff scrambled and rounded up some old Georgia Tech jerseys, and off they went.
On that Thursday night in Atlanta, Glennon was a man possessed. He was poised, calm, always made the right decision, and lit the Yellow Jackets up. Glennon completed 22 of 32 passes for 296 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, and he also ran for a score.
It was as if the uniform situation was just distracting enough for him to not think about what he was doing on the field. He was on autopilot and cruised to victory.
Sean had his tough moments, but there have been plenty of good plays too.
Time and time again, just when you thought you'd seen the last of Sean, he reemerged like a phoenix from the ashes of his last interception, always there to find a way to redeem himself.
Whether it's leading a desperately needed two-minute drill, exploding for over 200 yards coming off the bench, or winning the ACC Championship Game MVP, there has always been some outburst of brilliance to counteract all the brow-furrowing moments generated by old No. 7.
Years from now, when you're gathered around with your buddies tailgating and reminiscing about the "old days" of Hokie football, Sean Glennon will eventually come up in conversation.
"He was never flashy," you'll recall. "He sure did make some bad throws."
Just try to remember, as many times as he left you scratching your head and cursing the heavens for someone, anyone else, Sean made plenty of good plays and was an important part of Tech's early ACC success.