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Notre Dame Football: What Return Home Means to Will Fuller, Mike McGlinchey

Mike Monaco@@MikeMonaco_Contributor IOctober 29, 2015

Will Fuller
Will FullerJoe Robbins/Getty Images

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As Notre Dame football juniors and Philadelphia natives, Irish wide receiver Will Fuller and right tackle Mike McGlinchey often travel home together for breaks, either booking the same flights or making the 10-hour drive.

A couple college kids traveling together. Classic road trip, right?

“He’s a quiet kid, so sometimes it’s hard to get words out of him,” McGlinchey said while laughing.

Just last week, they flew back together to Philadelphia during Notre Dame’s bye week to enjoy a few days at home. Then there was the time Fuller and McGlinchey drove back to South Bend, as Fuller wanted to bring his car to campus.

“That was pretty fun—10 hours in a car with Will Fuller,” McGlinchey quipped with a smile.

The environment Saturday will be anything but quiet as Fuller, McGlinchey and No. 9 Notre Dame travel to Philadelphia to square off with No. 21 and unbeaten Temple in prime time at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles. ESPN’s College GameDay will air from Independence Mall in the morning, and a sold-out stadium will be the site for the Irish and the Owls in the evening.

Both Fuller and McGlinchey are playing back in their home city for the first time since high school. Fuller was a standout at Roman Catholic, while McGlinchey played at Penn Charter about 15 minutes away. The two knew of each other in high school, took a few of the same recruiting visits and played in some of the same football events, including the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at the end of their senior seasons.

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Will Fuller in high school
Will Fuller in high schoolCredit: 247Sports

Fuller was tabbed as the No. 41 wide receiver and No. 278 overall player in the country out of high school.

“Well it’s kind of the same thing as it is now,” McGlinchey said of Fuller’s high school career. “Not too many people knew too much about him because he’s so quiet, so humble. He just goes out and lets his play do the talking. I think that’s what’s happened here as well. He’s just quiet, under the radar, but he’ll strike like a lightning bolt.”

Fuller said Temple offered him toward the end of his junior season. The speedy wideout took a few visits to campus due to its proximity but never really considered playing for the Owls. His first collegiate game, in fact, was against Temple, when he suited up for the Irish in their 2013 season opener.

Twenty-four receiving touchdowns later, Fuller returns to his hometown a marked, if understated, man. And with tattoos of the Philadelphia skyline and the “City of Brotherly Love” etched on him, Fuller said he’s drawn motivation from his city.

“Coming out of high school, I wasn't highly recruited,” Fuller said. “Had to prove myself everywhere I went. I wasn't the best player on my pound ball team, had to prove myself there. Had to prove myself in high school. I didn't get any scholarships to a high school team, so I had to earn a scholarship in high school. And here, I had to earn my spot here. Everywhere I go, you've just got to earn what you're worth.”

Fuller said he could have never imagined such a major college football game—with GameDay in town—happening in his city.

“That’s why I say it’s like a dream come true,” Fuller said.

Fuller said his mother, Megan Mitchell, told him more than 100 friends and family members will be in attendance to watch Fuller on Saturday night. McGlinchey, too, said his cheering section is expected to be close to 200 strong.

Mike McGlinchey
Mike McGlincheyRVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

“I like to think that having that hometown feel is kind of on my side a little bit more,” McGlinchey said. “It’s just a football game, going into it preparing like you always do. That’s all I’m worried about.”

Notre Dame will hold its Friday walk-through at McGlinchey’s high school, Penn Charter, where the massive tackle captained the squad in 2012 and also played basketball for the Quakers.

Mike McGlinchey in high school
Mike McGlinchey in high schoolCredit: 247Sports

“That’s pretty special,” McGlinchey said. “I’ve been joking around with the guys in the locker room about getting to see the school and everything. Penn Charter, I know, is excited about the opportunity.”

McGlinchey actually began his high school career as a tight end before shifting to the offensive line to make use of his 6’8”, 310-pound frame. After redshirting in his freshman season in South Bend, McGlinchey served as a backup lineman last year, earning his first career start in the Music City Bowl victory over LSU. He said the adjustment to major college football, with all its intricacies, was difficult.

“Where I came from, we were a small school, small program; we didn’t really have too much going on, just kind of went out and played,” McGlinchey said of his high school career. “I’ve had to become a student of the game here, and that’s something I really enjoy doing, learning more about and getting a grasp of what football is all about.”

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings.

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco on Twitter.

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