June 3, 2008
CHESTNUT HILL Ryan Purvis first got to know Chris Crane when the two played against each other for rival high schools in Pennsylvania. When they both wound up at Boston College, they started rooming together as freshmen and have been together ever since.
So you could say that Purvis, the All-ACC tight end, knows a bit about the inner and outer workings of Crane, the fifth-year senior-to-be who has been given the offensive reins, with Matt Ryan now a very rich man in the NFL.
Purvis thinks Crane will be just fine.
"I don't think we're going to skip a beat," Purvis said recently. "Coach (Steve) Logan (the offensive coordinator) won't allow us to skip a beat."
The Eagles do have other potential problems on offense. They don't have an experienced running back, with Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth lost to graduation. They lost tackle Gosder Cherilus to the first round of the NFL draft, and there will have to be some work done on the line.
But BC has receivers. Purvis is confident that Crane, who will make his second college start when the Eagles face Kent State at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Aug. 30, will deliver the ball just fine.
"I feel like Crane's the most ready, most experienced you could be without actually getting snaps," Purvis said. "He's been here with two offensive coordinators, he's been behind Matt, he's played some, he's been behind Paul Peterson. He's a smart kid. He's observed all that, and I feel like he's mature enough to handle it."
Through the years, the BC attack has been built on the power running game. Many feel it is what has allowed the quarterbacks, playing a pro style, to get ready for the NFL. But with a youthful running backs situation heading into this fall, more of the onus would seem to shift to the QB, and the one with the 2008 onus hasn't played much college football.
"He's confident. He's definitely confident in his ability to get the job done," Purvis said. "Everyone says he has big shoes to fill, and I don't think that's going to affect him very much."
As far as where that confidence comes from, Purvis said, "He's a big kid, and he's a good athlete. He's smart."
And having this receiving corps can only help.
"It's the most experienced part of our offense," Purvis said. "That has to help Chris. It's going to help overall, trying to bring this offense along. But I think the younger kids (in the backfield) are in position to step up, and I think they'll do well. Not everyone is picking us to do a whole lot, but I kinda like being the underdog."
Crane, of course, replaces a young man who just signed a deal with the Atlanta Falcons that could be worth $72 million.
"It's pretty amazing, just to see that come up on TV the other day," Purvis said. "In one minute, he goes from just a poor college kid to a multi-million dollar player. It would be nice if he came back and kind of took us out or something."
Turning more serious, Purvis said of Ryan, "He's a great guy through and through. I'm so happy for him and his family. He deserves it, and I think he's going to do really well."
Purvis said ex-teammates have been talking to Ryan.
"Someone said they talked to him the day before he signed, and they were just kinda talking," he said. "Then, he signs that deal. It's kinda weird being so close to a guy making that kind of money."
If things continue on this path, the 6-4, 260-pound Purvis also will be making some NFL money not Ryan money, but money to play football. Purvis caught 54 passes for 553 yards and four touchdowns last year, with the last two catches coming in the Champs Bowl win over Michigan State.
"I was just playing. I was a piece of the offense, and then I look up after eight or nine games and I'm right around 50 catches," he said. "I always knew catching the ball was one of my attributes. I knew I was capable of it, and all of a sudden we're deep into the season and I'm around 50 catches, and a couple of weeks later I get a call saying I was All-ACC. It kind of caught up with me, caught me by surprise."
But, he said, "It was definitely nice to get the notoriety, but it would have been nicer if we won the last couple of games. (The Eagles lost the ACC title game to Virginia Tech.) There's a lot of work left to do for our team and a lot of work left for me personally to do."
ALCOHOL BEHIND SMITH'S WOES
Defensive lineman Brady Smith is no longer a member of the BC football team. But if he stays out of trouble for the next two years, at least he won't be going to jail.
Smith, who started 12 games last year (and was projected as a starter for 2008), originally was charged with rape after an on-campus incident, but the case was settled as the senior female student wanted it resolved.
Smith, permanently dismissed from the team by BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski, has been ordered to stay away from the victim, regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and submit to random urine tests for two years. If all goes well over that time, the charge will be dismissed, on May 14, 2010.
"You can blame it all on excessive alcohol (consumption)," Smith's lawyer, Philip A. Tracy, said. "It's a lesson he has learned, and I hope other young people learn it."
Smith, who had two years of eligibility remaining, had his eyes on the NFL, and his loss will be felt on a defensive front that should be the strong point of the team this fall.
His departure also damaged a family legacy. His uncle, Charlie Smith, was a BC captain in 1965. His brother Matt and cousin Charles also played for the Eagles, in the 1990s.
Brady Smith had 25 tackles last year, with 7.5 for loss, including 2.5 sacks.
GOOD NEWS: GONZALEZ, GALLUP
- Tony Gonzalez, a key receiver at BC through Ryan's junior year, signed a free agent deal with the Falcons to join his pal.
Ryan had insisted on Gonzalez being there for his Pro Day passing in Chestnut Hill, and it paid off for both. Gonzalez caught 89 passes, 12 for touchdowns, during his time at BC but failed to make it in the CFL last year.
- Athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced a promotion for football staffer Barry Gallup, from assistant athletic director to associate AD.
"This is a fitting promotion for one of the hardest-working members of our staff," DeFilippo said of Gallup, the former head coach at Northeastern who now is in charge of football operations at his alma mater.
- Ryan was named the male Eagle of the Year, while linebacker Mark Herzlich was tabbed as an outstanding scholar-athlete.
Herzlich has two years of eligibility left and is one of the talented leaders of a deep front seven on the BC defense.