By most measures, Boston College football’s current group of recruits ranks somewhere outside the Top 50, firmly in the bottom half of the ACC. One four-star and a plethora of three-star recruits pale in comparison to the likes of Louisville’s and Clemson’s crops.
It doesn’t faze head coach Steve Addazio, though, who closed out the early signing period with an optimistic press conference on Tuesday, in which the central point was youth.
Last season, despite pulling in four-star running back A.J. Dillon, the Eagles ranked 67th in the country and second-to-last in the ACC. The result? A Dillon-led, freshman-fueled surge that lifted BC to a seven-win regular season, a .500 record in conference, and an invitation to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Dillon was the bright spot, racking up postseason accolades, but much should be said about the other members of his class. Ben Petrula was a three-star offensive guard, but moved to the center position after the Eagles lost Jon Baker to a season-ending injury. He wound up flourishing, and was named an ESPN Freshman All-American. Alec Lindstrom was even more lightly recruited—a two-star guard who picked BC over University of Massachusetts. Still, he started at right tackle from the Notre Dame game on, as part of a line that finished 13th in adjusted sack prevention rate.
Quarterback Anthony Brown and wide receiver Kobay White, both redshirt freshmen, also led their respective positions, joining Dillon in a core rivaled by none. BC finished as the only Division I team to have freshmen lead the team in rushing, passing, and receiving.
The ranking of Brown and White’s class? 78th. Addazio has proved to be adept at finding under-recruited players who can step up and contribute.
“People rank recruiting classes, and they certainly can do that,” Addazio said during Tuesday’s press conference, per BCEagles.com. “But the real ranking of a recruiting class comes down to the productivity of that recruiting class.”
Addazio focused on that 78th-ranked class in particular, singling out seven eventual starters this season. The class included two on the All-Rookie team, the Offensive Player of the Year, and nine All-ACC selections. This season’s group of recruits has the potential to be similar and outperform their rankings.
Here’s a look at five of the more intriguing recruits, outside of the known commodities like four-star offensive guard Finn Dirstine, who the Eagles snagged over ACC foes Miami and Syracuse.
1) Cornerback Aaron Gethers
One of the biggest concerns addressed by this class was the lack of depth at linebacker and in the secondary. Three-star recruit Aaron Gethers, a cornerback out of Bishop McDevitt in Pennsylvania, aims to help fix the latter.
Gethers had offers from the CAA’s Albany and the MAC’s Buffalo, but won Addazio over in a training camp. The 5-foot-11 speedster had looked great on tape, and Addazio wanted to see Gethers run a time that was up to the fifth-year coaches’ standards. Instead of balking, as Addazio expected, he said, “I’ll go out and run right now,” and promptly beat the time expected. PennLive reported that Gethers put up a 4.48 40-yard dash time, one of the fastest times by a cornerback in ESPN’s recruiting rankings.
2) Linebacker Joe Sparacio
One of the lesser-recruited players—Florida product Joe Sparacio—is one that Addazio spent more time talking about.
“This is a guy that I think will shock people,” Addazio said of the 6-foot inside linebacker. “He’s very athletic and could do a lot of things.”
The Eagles had plenty of troubles at the linebacker position this season, dealing with injuries to starters Connor Strachan and Max Richardson. This forced backups into play, including redshirt freshman John Lamot—he had an impressive season, finishing fifth in tackles. With Ty Schwab, the teams’ leading tackler, graduating, Sparacio and the other linebackers recruited could have an immediate impact.
3) Quarterback Johnny Langan
When Addazio, the former offensive coordinator at Florida, says someone reminds him a little bit of Tim Tebow, you better listen. Tebow threw for almost 3,000 yards and ran for 900 more in 2009, his first year with Addazio calling the plays.
Bergen Catholic’s Langan stands 6-foot-3, 220 pounds—almost exactly what Tebow weighed in college. He’s an imposing runner with a big arm, drawing comparisons to recent Eagles quarterback Patrick Towles. Towles had a solid senior season after transferring from Kentucky, so expect Langan to grow within the program. He could potentially be competing for the starting job as early as his second year on campus.
4) Kicker John Tessitore
Among qualified kickers, BC’s Colton Lichtenberg finished ninth in the ACC out of 11 in field goal percentage, second-to-last in extra points, and went just 2-of-8 from beyond 40 yards. Enter Tessitore: A kicker from Choate Rosemary School in Connecticut, Tessitore is expected to compete for the kicking job, a spot of turbulence for the Eagles in recent history. Additionally, with punter Mike Knoll graduating, the Eagles will also need depth at punter—a job Tessitore can do as well. He’s a multi-purpose recruit and the son of BC graduate and current ESPN personality Joe Tessitore.
5) Running Back David Bailey
Dillon is an imposing 6-foot, 240-pound running back. Junior Jon Hilliman is the same height, just 20 pounds lighter. Bailey is more of the same, standing 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, ready to carry on the bruising rushing attack the Eagles love.
“You’re talking about a 6-foot-1, 240-pound guy that might be 250,” Addazio said. “To have a chance to have big backs come in in the style of offense we’re in, I love.”
With offers from Virginia and Rutgers, the Ridgely, Md. product looks like the prototypical running back that Addazio and Co. would be interested in. He’s not the same caliber recruit as Dillon by any means, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him pick up a few carries next season. Freshman Travis Levy had 21 attempts this season. Those are touches Bailey could be looking at in 2018, assuming that he isn’t redshirted.
Overall, this class has the potential to play beyond its ranking, yet again. With a young roster that will see several positions depleted by graduation, expect to see plenty of Addazio’s new recruits on the field in the upcoming season.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor