(An outsiders look at goings on at The Heights, aka Boston College)
No one is ready to give them any love. If there is a consensus opinion that Florida State and Clemson are the top two teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference coming into the 2017 season, there is also a consensus opinion that Boston College will again be one of the bottom-feeders.
Coach Steve Addazio's team is projected as the 7th place team in the ACC Atlantic Division. But if you were part of the small gathering at BC's media day activities this week, if you listened to the words coming from not only Addazio, but his staff and his players, you would be hard pressed to argue that the Eagles would not be part of the ACC championship game picture in December.
No one expects any coach to predict gloom and doom in the pre-season. Everyone is 0-0 in August. Optimism can be found with any situation.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership][/membership]
But Addazio, who despite rumors of his "hot seat'' status as a coach, sounds as secure and optimistic as any Top 10 coach. With FOUR more seasons on a guaranteed contract that will pay him approximately $2.6 million a year, Addazio can coach without looking towards the office of new BC athetic director Martin Jarmond for votes of confidence.
"We had a great off season, a great winter, a great spring, recruiting has gone fantastic,'' said Addazio just warming up in the discussion of what BC, which ended last season with three straight victories to finish 7-6, might be able to do in the next few months.. ""Our team is maturing players. We have some good team speed. ''
Officially, BC has 14 starters returning, 7 on offense, 7 on defense. The Eagles will begin the season with almost no experience at QB, which could lead to some questions.
Addazio sees only sunlight. ""You start with Darius (redshirt junior Darius Wade) and Anthony (redshirt freshman Anthony Brown), they can both throw the ball,'' says Addazio, who is starting his fifth season at The Heights. "" They're accurate, they have good arm strength. They're athletic ''
Addazio says there are more quality QBs on the roster than ever before and there are two QBs scheduled to be in the system next season because BC has broken through in recruiting with a Top 25 (nationally) recruiting class, an unheard status for BC recruiting in the past. ""It's a quarterback room now,'' says Addazio. "There's a room of quarterbacks.''
Addazio then goes to his offensive line, which is dominated by veterans, he goes to his wide receivers and tight ends and his running backs. He sees talent and depth and potential. ""We're fast now,'' says Addazio of his receivers and his running backs ""We have speed. Those guys can all run.'''
Addazio hasn't even gotten to the defense, which is anchored by defensive lineman Harold Landry, who is a legitimate first team All America candidate. "Yeah, he's a marquee player,'' said Addazio, who then quickly shifted to his other defensive end Zach Allen. ""Zach Allen is going to emerge as a breakout this year,'' said Addazio. ""I promise you. He's an elite player.''Connor Strachan (MLB) is a marquee player.''
Addazio knows that all of this can change in a heartbeat, starting on Sept. 1 when the Eagles open their season at Northern Illinois. He also knows that although the Eagles won 7 games last season and finished with wins over UConn, Wake Forest and Maryland, BC has yet to prove it can play with the elite teams in the ACC or anywhere.
In the Eagles competition against the ACC Atlantic's top 3 teams last season--Louisville, Clemson and Florida State--the Eagles went 0-3 and were outscored 113-24.
Landry, who chose to return to BC for his senior season despite being projected a first or second round NFL draft pick, knows the challenge the Eagles will face. ""Definitely we have the opportunity this year to show that we're not that (a second tier team) team anymore and that we can compete with those guys,'' said Landry. ""I think we have a lot of talent on this team and I mean, yeah, it hurt last season, but you've got to have a short term memory in this game and we're definitely ready to attack the schedule.''
Few people outside of The Heights are expecting any kind of successful attack, with 6 or 7 wins regarded as an optimistic projection. But if you look at the roster that Addazio now has--including Brown, who could be the QB of the future and freshman RB AJ Dillon, a 6-foot-247 pound running back, who was recruited by FSU, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, committed to Michigan and then decommitted to BC, there is talent, there is potential and there is a sense that after five up and down seasons, the Eagles are ready to make a statement.
With Clemson and ND scheduled in the first month of the season, we should have a pretty good idea by October just how positive that statement might be.[/membership]