Sidelines To Front Lines

In 2009, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound wide receiver turned quarterback and linebacker from Maryland was recruited to play under center at Boston College. Scouts noted his arm wasn’t the strongest in the world, but it was accurate-2,082 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior year-and besides, the kid was physically strong and could run-he moved his feet for 10 scores that season. The offer was made, and the hard-hitting quarterback from Maryland shipped up to Chestnut Hill as a member of the 2010 BC football recruiting class.

Over four years later, Josh Bordner needed a change. The kid from Maryland had ended up redshirting his freshman year, playing in five games the 2011 season and then appearing in four games over the course of two seasons as BC’s primary backup for Chase Rettig. Then, with the 2014 season on the horizon and Rettig gone, BC brought in senior Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy as a transfer and dual-threat freshman Darius Wade as an early enrollee freshman. The writing on the wall was clear-Bordner would not be the guy taking snaps for BC.

Therefore, when BC head coach Steve Addazio offered the now 6-foot-4, 226-pound senior a chance to get on the field as a hybrid receiver, he jumped at the opportunity and threw himself into the role. Bordner worked all spring transitioning to his new old position, and now-in an ironic twist of fate-the quarterback BC football had little use for became the receiver the Eagles desperately need.

Operation position change first kicked into gear shortly after the football team’s winter break, when Bordner met with Addazio to discuss his situation and role on the team.
“He kind of brought up the idea, and I had thought about it before but never really thought much about it,” Bordner said. “As soon as he said it I was like, I know it would be perfect for me to be put in a situation like that. It was kind of his idea at first, but I went along with it right away.”

Bordner went to work catching passes and running routes before spring ball started. Playing high school basketball and wide receiver left Bordner with a soft pair of hands, and as a quarterback, he already had a good handle on the routes. But throughout the spring he’s worked on grabbing the ball in traffic, reading coverage, generally adapting to the nuances of playing receiver at the DI level, and of course, stopping hulking defensive ends from crushing his quarterback.

“There’s a lot of technique that I need to learn and obviously be better at, but blocking is-I don’t know, it’s different,” Bordner said. “I enjoy it I guess, in a way, not blocking defensive ends, I’ll have to get used to that.”

The physicality of the role is new-his body is still adapting to the wear and tear of the required conditioning and the physicality of catching across the middle, but as a whole, the experiment is running smoothly. And given the Eagles’ deficiency of receiving depth and established senior leadership, BC needs successful results.

When BC lost wide receiver Alex Amidon and tight ends Mike Naples and Jake Sinkovec to graduation, it lost 101 of last season’s 164 receptions, 1,349 of 2,012 yards, and nine of 17 receiving touchdowns. C.J. Parsons, a junior tight end who caught nine passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns, is no longer a member of the team, nor is Spiffy Evans, a junior wide receiver responsible for seven receptions, 97 yards, and one touchdown in 2013. It is questionable if senior Bobby Swigert, who hasn’t played since suffering a season-ending knee injury in Nov. 2012, will play return to the field, and sophomore Harrison Jackson, who caught five passes for 46 yards and one touchdown, has struggled with injury as well. Somehow, the player returning to the team with the most catches is sophomore running back Dave Dudeck, who bagged 11 receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown in 2013.
With this deficiency of depth in mind, Bordner could, quite literally, be huge for BC and whichever quarterback is throwing to him this season. He has size, experience with the playbook, and a demonstrated willingness to put the team ahead of him-traits that will be vital on a very young BC team this fall.

As spring practices wrap up, Bordner’s plan is to keep working and adjusting to his new role, build chemistry with the other receivers and quarterbacks, and become a team leader as a senior receiver.

“I look forward to it,” Bordner said. “It’s something that I can actually be passionate about now, and knowing that I’m going to be able to make a difference on the team and play a big role is something that I’ve been wanting to do.”

And, harkening back to his linebacking days, he’s looking to vent a little aggression.

“I like hitting, I like getting hit, it’s kind of weird,” Bordner said. “But I enjoy that.”

About Connor Mellas 85 Articles
Connor Mellas is a senior at Boston College. He used to be Sports Editor. Now he wanders aimlessly through the void. Follow him on Twitter @MellasHeights.