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Eagles Excited By 2014 Recruits

Thursday, January 16, 2014 12:00pm
By: Boston College Insider

CHESTNUT HILL – Feb. 5 is quickly approaching, and BC fans are eager to get the 2014 signing class signed, sealed and delivered.

Rivals.com has BC ranked as the 35th best recruiting class in the nation, and compared to the recruiting results from the Spaziani era, that ranking might as well be No. 1 in the country in the eyes of BC fans.

BC still has room to add a player or two in the 2014 class. A huge position of need that Steve Addazio is trying to fill is wide receiver.

Wideout Alex Amidon has graduated and is taking 51 percent of the total team receiving yards with him. The leading returning wide receiver will be Spiffy Evans, who had 97 yards receiving total and actually missed six games last fall.

The top target right now is Florida commit Ryan Sousa, who came in for a visit to the Heights in December. All indications are that Sousa enjoyed the visit, but he hasn’t flipped from Florida yet. The BC staff hopes they can make that happen before signing day.

Speaking of Florida, the Gators are beginning to resemble BC’s minor league team a little bit. Last year, left tackle Matt Patchan left the Gators to become BC’s starter for his last year. Patchan went on to receive All-ACC honors and put together a great season for the Eagles.

Now, Addazio has reached down to Florida to grab an offensive lineman and a quarterback.

Quarterback Tyler Murphy and offensive lineman Ian Silberman have both decided that they will play for Addazio in their last year of eligibility. Murphy is obviously the bigger headline of the two additions, since he is expected to take over for the graduating Chase Rettig.

The 6-2, 210-pound Murphy is expected to be dual threat for BC and is the type of quarterback that BC will recruit at that position going forward. Murphy chose BC over Louisville, Virginia Tech and UCF.

Jackson, Clifford Spark Team

When Boston College got off to a horrible start in non-conference play this season, fans and the media were trying to figure out what was wrong with the Eagles.

The defense was playing horrid, allowing some of the most points per possession in the entire country. The offense was struggling to hit threes, sitting in the bottom three in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage but first overall in attempts.

Steve Donahue became the scapegoat for the bad start, which isn’t unfair since he is the coach. The reality of the situation, though, was that the Eagles were missing two key components to the team, juniors Lonnie Jackson and Dennis Clifford.

To Donahue’s credit, he didn’t bring up his two injured players and use their injuries as an excuse to the poor start. Now that people have the luxury of seeing how the team has performed with the two players, it’s worth wondering if BC would’ve gone closer to .500 in the non-conference with them.

Jackson missed the first three games of the year in what was reported as a hamstring injury. Jackson returned in Game Four, but it was clear even then that he wasn’t at the top of his game.

“When he was out, he was out for like four months, and then when he came back, he wasn’t the same Lonnie,” Donahue said. “There wasn’t a rhythm to him playing. He makes us a much better basketball team, not only because he can make shots but because he knows where to be, where to put other people, and an understanding of what the coaches want to do. Obviously, the ability to shoot the ball is something we need.”

Jackson had a good third game back against Washington when he went 3-of-5 from long range, but that was about the only game when he looked to have his shot going. In fact, before exploding against Syracuse and Virginia Tech recently, Jackson was only 14-of-43 (32 percent) on three-point attempts this season. It’s very easy to see an extra win or two in the win column if the Eagles had a healthy Jackson all year.

Probably bigger than the absence of Jackson was the absence of Clifford. After going through minor surgery on each of his knees in August and September, the junior center was not able to return to game action until Jan. 4 against Clemson.

Clifford immediately helped turnaround the BC defense. Clemson was only able to muster 1.09 points per possession, while Virginia Tech only scored .97 points per possession. Without Clifford in the lineup, the Eagles have been allowing 1.15 points per possession.

The interest thing is that you won’t find Clifford’s impact in the box score by looking at individual stats. In two games, Clifford has only two blocks and four defensive rebounds. The big man does what isn’t found on the stat sheet, like stopping ball-handlers from penetrating to the hoop and forcing them to kick it outside, or simply hedging hard on a screen to disrupt a ball-handler from driving to the hoop.

Donahue said that Clifford has had an impact in the team’s improvement on defense.

“I think that we’ve done a good job with our core principles over the last three weeks,” Donahue said. “Just really simple things like high hands on shooters. I think we are challenging shots a lot better than earlier in the year. We are taking pride in guarding and keeping the man in front of you so we don’t have as many blow-bys and direct drives to the basket. The last part is we are really helping each other at recovering and helping the helper.”

While BC probably wouldn’t be a ranked team with a fully healthy lineup, one has to wonder if the overall record would’ve been much closer to 12-5 than 5-12. The NCAA Tournament appears out of reach again this year, but Donahue has two months to prove with his full lineup that he is the man for the job.