“We think we got some dudes, but that remains to be seen.”
Heading into National Signing Day as the head football coach for Boston College, Steve Addazio had four goals for his second recruiting class: dominate the home front, replace starters in the secondary, beef up the offensive and defensive lines, and find speed.
The Eagles will have 26 incoming student-athletes—21 freshmen, four mid-year enrollees, and one graduate transfer—from across nine states. Fifteen of BC’s 26 recruits live within a five-hour radius of Chestnut Hill and six are from Massachusetts—a fact that Addazio finds key to the growth of the program.
“You always want to build a fence around your school,” Addazio said. “Massachusetts has really good high school football, good coaches, and programs. These are kids that understand the Northeast.”
BC’s incoming recruits are evenly balanced on both sides of the field, with 13 offensive and 13 defensive players. On the offensive side, the Eagles will add one tight end, one offensive-minded athlete, one running back, two quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and five linemen. Defensively, BC will add two tackles, two ends, three linebackers, and six defensive backs.
Addazio stressed the need to find secondary men to replace 2014 starters Manuel Asprilla and Dominique Williams. Highlighting this year’s defensive back class is Lukas Denis of Everett, Mass. Denis was ESPN Boston’s 2014 Defensive Player of the Year while compiling eight interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. The BC coach also praised Denis’ intangible ability. “He is a high character guy who is very bright,” Addazio said. “He’s a real BC guy. He will do well here.”
The Eagles augmented their defensive line by adding graduate transfer tackle Evan Kelly and freshmen ends Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray. Kelly arrives from the University of Richmond as a First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Conference Player in 2014—given his background with the Spiders, Addazio noted that Kelly should be ready to start immediately for BC. Ray, a six-foot-three, 230-pound end from Boca Raton, notched All-State honors as a senior while compiling 7.5 sacks.
His tone perked up most, however, when speaking about Allen. The defensive end finished his career at New Canaan High School with 33 sacks and was the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year. “It was really important for us to get a better four-man rush,” Addazio said. “[Ray and Allen] are two young guys who are big-time pass rushers.”
With seven of 12 offensive linemen graduating, including all five starters, Addazio also recognized the need to replace his men up front. “I’ve coached that position my whole career and I would tell you I’m excited about last year’s and this year’s O-line class,” Addazio said. “In the future, we’ll be a dominant front.”
This incoming class’s offensive line is highlighted by Anthony Palazzolo and early enrollee Chris Lindstrom. The six-foot-five, 330-pound Palazzolo from Connecticut helped Fairfield Prep run for 4,196 yards last season and he earned a spot on the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State First Team as a senior. Lindstrom—a Dudley, Mass. native—checks in at six-foot-four, 236 pounds and was named ESPN Boston’s Lineman of the Year as a senior. Although he comes in undersized for an offensive lineman, Addazio lauded his toughness and work ethic.
Addazio stressed the importance of finding linemen who will fit his offensive game plan. Although BC lost offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who accepted the position of quarterback coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Addazio asserted that BC will run the same system as last season—the one he brought in himself—and he’s the one in the charge of the offensive war room. And though Addazio wants to edge closer to a balance on offense, he acknowledged that BC will be a run-heavy team, led by true freshman Jon Hilliman (860 yards, 13 TDs) and sophomore Myles Willis (459 yards, 2 TDs).
The Eagles will lose starting quarterback Tyler Murphy, who passed for 1,623 yards and 13 TDs and rushed for a school career record 1,174 yards and 11 TDs. To combat that, Addazio added two dual-threat quarterbacks to compete with Darius Wade and Troy Flutie for the quarterback position: Jeff Smith and early-enrollee Elijah Robinson. Smith threw for 2,163 yards and rushed for 1,236 as a senior for Central Catholic in Seminole, Fla. Robinson has impressed even more: as a two-year starter for Montclair (N.J.) High School, Robinson amassed 6,431 all-purpose yards and 84 TDs. Robinson also won the Maxwell Football Club’s New Jersey Player of the Year Award.
Addazio also added several weapons in the receiving core, notably tight end Jake Burt and receiver Nolan Borgersen. Burt earned ESPN Boston All-State honors, scoring seven touchdowns on 28 catches for 255 yards. “We feel like with his athleticism as a tight end and physical presence, he should have a great career,” Addazio said.
Borgersen compiled the most impressive high school record of any BC freshman. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound wideout set New Jersey state records for career touchdowns (52), receiving yards (4,212), and catches (247), while also setting single-season records in touchdowns (27) and receiving yards (1,894) as a junior.
The fiery coach had similar praise for Borgersen, another early-enrollee, for both his work ethic and his quickness. “He had a seamless transition in the winter workouts—he was completely unphased by the intensity of the workouts, which is hard to do,” Addazio said. “He’s got bona fide speed. You’re talking about a guy who came in camp and ran a 4.3. He’s fast.”
Note: When asked about if any players expressed concern over BC’s decision to vote against cost-of-attendance, Addazio laughed it off, commenting: “No [laugh] nope, no, no, no. I”m not sure that guys that we’re going to be involved with, that it’s going to be their first priority. We’re involved with guys that are really evaluating the weight of their academic degree at Boston College, they’ve got bigger picture in mind. Cost-of-attendance, is, you know. They’re coming here for a bigger picture, which I really appreciate. They’re not concerned about that, our guys really aren’t concerned about all that stuff. That’s all going to work out just fine. That’s a lot about a little.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff