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Former Westfield High quarterback Mike Glennon always dreamed of playing in the NFL someday. Last Friday, his dream became reality when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him with the 73rd overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Glennon, who started all 26 games for N.C. State the past two seasons, was the third quarterback taken in the draft after Florida State’s E.J. Manuel (No. 16 overall to the Buffalo Bills) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (No. 39, N.Y. Jets). He was selected with the 11th pick of the third round by a Tampa Bay team that hadn’t taken a quarterback in the draft since 2009, when they picked up their current starter, Josh Freeman.

“I know that we always talk about taking the best player available, does this fill a need, how does it work; this one actually worked on both ends,” Tampa Bay General Manager Mark Dominik said in a press conference following the third round. “We had [Glennon] as the highest player on the board and it filled a need for our football team that we thought was important.”

Tampa Bay is coming off a 7-9 season that marked slight improvement from its 4-12 record in 2011. Freeman set single-season records in passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27), but he threw just five touchdowns compared to nine interceptions during a five-game losing streak to close the season.

Tampa Bay coaches believe that Glennon’s size and strong arm provide depth to the team’s vertical passing offense. He will likely start off competing with Dan Orlovsky for the team’s backup role behind Freeman.

Second-year coach Greg Schiano has been familiar with Glennon since his days at Westfield. Schiano — then the head coach at Rutgers — recruited Glennon before realizing the quarterback’s desire to play in the ACC.

“A highly productive quarterback in the ACC, a guy that I’ve known about for a number of years, recruiting him out of high school,” Schiano said. “We were actually in a position where we had to go out and focus on quarterbacks the year he was a senior so we went out and saw him as a young kid. I’ve known him for a number of years. A really bright, intelligent football IQ, very high, and I think he’ll fit in really, really well here.”

Glennon is coming off a senior year at N.C. State in which he threw for 4,031 yards, the sixth highest single-season mark in ACC history. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound signal caller racked up 7,075 yards, 62 touchdowns and 29 interceptions during his two seasons as a starter, completing about 60 percent of his passes in that span.

His initial years with the Wolfpack were spent backing up Russell Wilson, the current starter for the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson was drafted in the third round of last year’s draft, falling to Seattle with the 75th overall pick.

“[Glennon is] a very smart, cerebral young man who really understands systems and has worked with some of the best quarterback coaches,” Dominik said. “His coach actually coached Matt Ryan, coached Russell Wilson. He’s worked with some really great coaches in his development so far and that’s what’s exciting about him.

On his way to being ranked as one of the top high school recruits in the country, Glennon embarked on a senior season at Westfield that saw him throw for 2,557 yards and 32 touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs to their most recent state championship title in 2007.

“I think knowing him, wherever he was going to go, he was going to fight to play,” said Tom Verbanic, Glennon’s former coach at Westfield. “I think this is a good situation. I think he’ll be given a fair chance, and he’ll have time to learn also. In the NFL you don’t know how long it’s going to be, but it seems like there’s always a quarterback injury waiting to happen too. You never know when that chance is going to happen, and I think he’s a good one that will be ready to go.”

neilerson@fairfaxtimes.com