June 1, 2006
CHESTNUT HILL -- It took the better part of a month after the annual spring game, but Boston College football coach Tom O'Brien finally released a depth chart in mid-May, answering some pressing questions about his offensive line, at least heading into the fall.
While BC loves to pride itself on being "O-Line U," because of the tradition of an offensive front that regularly sends players into the NFL, O'Brien and his staff had holes to fill this spring. The area certainly will be under close watch when the team reports in August for preseason camp.
With tackle Jeremy Trueblood a second-round draft choice of Tampa Bay and center Pat Ross (34 straight starts) heading to Seattle as a free agent, the Eagles went through camp with All-ACC candidate Josh Beekman the only member of the front wall staying put. Beekman was at right guard, and while there was some talk of moving him to center, the guard spot is where he stayed on the new depth chart.
He'll be joined -- at least for the time being -- on the right side by tackle Gosder Cherilus, who started 12 games last year. The left side will be manned by 12-game starter James Marten at tackle and junior Ryan Poles, who cracks the starting lineup. At center, Kevin Sheridan goes from a reserve spot to start, after winning a battle with Ty Hall, who now is listed as the backup left guard. Sophomore Bryan Murphy is the No. 2 center.
Elsewhere on offense, O'Brien lists L.V. Whitworth "or" Andre Callender as the starting tailback, leaving the juniors locked in their annual head-to-head battle for playing time. J. Survival Ross, No. 3 last year, is now the backup fullback.
Kevin Challenger and Tony Gonzalez, one of eight seniors on the 24-man depth chart (including the kickers), are listed as the top wide receivers, while junior Ryan Thompson took the starting tight end spot in a mild surprise over sophomore Ryan Purvis.
The defense sports only two seniors -- safety Ryan Glasper and cornerback Larry Anam -- and four redshirt freshmen, all of the latter in backup roles.
An old BC name that surfaced on the depth chart is incoming freshman Billy Flutie. The nephew of former Eagles great Doug Flutie, Billy is listed as the backup punter, and he's the only true freshman on the chart.
The Eagles had three players taken in the NFL draft, giving them 19 selections in the 10-year O'Brien tenure. Mathias Kiwanuka, who had 37.5 sacks in his 59-game career, became the 13th BC player tabbed in the first round when the New York Giants made him the 32nd and final pick of the round. Trueblood was the 59th player taken, while the versatile Will Blackmon went to Green Bay in the fourth round, with the 115th pick. Blackmon, who moved from cornerback to wide receiver for his senior year and also is a productive return man, is listed by the Packers as a cornerback.
Ross, linebacker Ricky Brown (Oakland) and quarterback Quinton Porter (Houston) all signed free-agent deals. Porter ended his career as a backup, but BC quarterbacks have a history of proving they belong in the NFL in some capacity, in some cases despite what happened in college.
2006: A TALE OF TWO SCHEDULES
While BC football fans are anything but thrilled with the Eagles' home schedule in 2006 -- Maine, Buffalo, Duke and BYU are among the seven-game lineup, which also includes a Thursday night visit by Virginia Tech (plus Maryland and Clemson) -- basketball watchers have to be excited.
Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Maryland highlight the home hoops slate, with Michigan State coming in for BC's first journey into the world of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Eagles lost to MSU at Madison Square Garden last season and had sought a rematch as part of the Challenge.
O'Brien has no trouble defending the 12th-game addition of Division I-AA Maine, both from the standpoint of promoting "New England football" and noting that the Black Bears may be a formidable foe. Two years ago, Maine went to Mississippi State and won. Last year, the Bears held Nebraska to nine first-half points before losing 25-7.
"We will be very concerned about Maine," O'Brien said. "They have shown they're able to go on the road and play against Division (I-A) teams."
Speaking of scheduling, the entire athletic department was beaming over the news that Fenway Park and BC will host the 2009 ACC Baseball Tournament. That decision marked the first time the Eagles secured a championship event since they entered the league.
"Not only will this be a treat for baseball fans in New England," BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said, "it will be a chance of a lifetime for the student-athletes to play in one of the most storied ballparks in baseball."
Getting the tournament was the latest BC dividend in a much broader marketing partnership with the Red Sox.
OFFSEASON BASKETBALL: NEWS, NOTES
The losses of associate head coach Bill Coen (Northeastern) and assistant Ed Cooley (Fairfield) to head coaching jobs was seen as a recruiting blow for BC. But Preston Murphy, who played for coach Al Skinner at Rhode Island and was hired by Skinner as an administrative assistant (replacing Bonzie Colson, who moved up to an assistant's spot), helped the Eagles land what looks like a big fish.
A relationship between Murphy and Barrington, R.I., junior Rakim Sanders helped BC get a commitment from the highly regarded Sanders for 2007-08. Sanders previously was being recruited mainly by Cooley.
The Eagles will go into next season without sophomore Evan Neisler, who will transfer, with Drexel one of the possible destinations mentioned. Neisler appeared in only eight games as a freshman, playing just 24 minutes.
As expected, Craig Smith was named BC's Most Valuable Player for last season, with fellow senior Louis Hinnant earning the Frank Power Memorial Award after leading the ACC in assist/turnover ratio. Jared Dudley took the Coaches Award, while Sean Marshall and John Oates shared Most Improved honors.
Coen filled his staff at Northeastern with a definite BC flavor, hiring all-time No. 2 Eagles scorer Dana Barros and former BC center Uka Agbai as assistants. But that staff, already facing the loss of backcourt star Jose Juan Berea to graduation, was hit by the news that shotblocker Sean James is leaving to follow his coach, Ron Everhart, to Duquesne.
Cooley's staff doesn't contain any BC names.
Boston College started playing Holy Cross in 1905. The two local schools have played every year, starting in 1945. But BC has called the series off, at least for now, with two reasons jumping out as causes.
For one, playing a Ralph Willard-coached team is never a treat, with Willard's mid-majors always more than capable of upsetting the big boys from down the road. The BC schedule, already tough with the ACC slate, this year also has Michigan State and Kansas. The Eagles haven't played the Jayhawks since 1968, when Bob Cousy coached BC.
The other reason, and this may be bigger than the first, is that BC wasn't pleased with what the Eagles perceived as excessively rough play from the Crusaders in recent games. Skinner decided it was time to stop complaining and just end things for the time being.
BC has won 14 of its last 15 games against Holy Cross, which is located in nearby Worcester.