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Fairhope, Ala. — Graham Glasgow grew up as a big Northern Illinois football fan with his father, Steve, working as the Huskies’ physician.

As a seventh-grader, Glasgow said he wore body paint with the letter N — his brother and friend had I and U — when the Huskies played a game against Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“It was the itchiest paint,” he said. “I don’t even think it was real body paint. It was real paint, and it was just like chipping away and it was terrible.”

Glasgow could have played at Northern Illinois because it was one of the teams that recruited him, but he had the itch to play somewhere better than a Mid-American Conference school. So, he returned to Ann Arbor after high school as a walk-on.

“I really wanted to play at the highest level, and I wanted to be the best that I could be,” he said. “So, whether that was walking onto a Big 10 school, I was going to do that if I had to.”

Clearly, Glasgow made the right decision. After five years at Michigan, he’s among the offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. trying to impress NFL scouts before the draft in April.

And Glasgow has already impressed people in the league. After an apparently impressive week at the East-West Shrine Game, Glasgow received an invitation to the Senior Bowl, the more prestigious of the college all-star games.

“It’s a strong year for centers, but he looks like an NFL starter,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said last week, according to NFL.com.

Playing back-to-back all-star games could be draining for Glasgow. He already did interviews with most NFL teams last week, but there will be more this week. Plus, he said he had late meetings with the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff Monday night to prepare for practice Tuesday.

But, with many players arriving in the Mobile, Alabama, area this week after more than a month off from football, Glasgow said he hopes the extra work last week will help him avoid being rusty this week.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case immediately Tuesday as he said admitted he struggled at the start of practice. At one point, Glasgow lost badly in a one-on-one drill to a beautiful spin move by Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.

“With him being 6-6, you definitely want to try to close that air space as fast as possible,” Rankins said. “You don’t want to allow his length to take over.”

And that height — 6-foot-6 officially — is one of the more shocking things about Glasgow. Typically, centers are shorter while players that tall play tackle, but he said he’s most comfortable playing inside after starting at center or guard the past three years at Michigan, though he’s willing to play anywhere in the NFL.

“I don’t really think it hinders me in any way,” he said of his height.

In addition to talking about football, Glasgow said teams have asked him about his past. Last March, Glasgow violated his probation related to a drunken-driving arrest in 2014, and he said every team has asked about the incidents.

“I feel like the best way to go about it is to be honest, tell them my side of the story and just go and emphasize that that’s not who I am anymore,” he said.

If teams dug deeper into his past, they’d find out that Glasgow’s love of football started in DeKalb, Ill. — about 30 miles from his hometown of Aurora — at Northern Illinois’ field.

“I would go to the games and then after they would win or lose … just my fondest memories, I would go out onto the field and play catch with my brothers and my friends,” he said.

Now, after taking his development into his own hands, as he said, Glasgow has a chance to make the leap from walk-on to the NFL.

“When I started playing more (at Michigan), this sort of became more of a reality to me,” he said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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