ACC: Mark Spinney
2011 conference record: 3-5 (5th, Atlantic)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1
LT John Wetzel, RT Emmett Cleary, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, TE Chris Pantale, QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Coin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano
C Mark Spinney, TE Lars Anderson, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley
2011 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)
Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)
Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)
Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)
Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)
Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)
1. Chase Rettig makes strides: Rettig was thrown into the fire early, and he has endured plenty since, with injuries, new schemes and last year's 4-8 campaign. Now a junior, and playing for another new offensive coordinator, Rettig has the command of the offense and should benefit from playing behind an experienced offensive line.
2. More running back depth than BC probably hoped for: Montel Harris and Andre Williams couldn't go in the spring game. Then Tahj Kimble injured himself early in the contest. Finch, who played a lot last season with Harris sidelined, ended up shouldering the load, and it will take a group effort this season with Harris out of the picture. Injuries and a dismissal gave BC a better look at its backfield talent than it had probably hoped for, but the group effort this spring should benefit the Eagles come fall.
3. Defense looking to build off 2011 finish: Coach Frank Spaziani said the worst thing about last season was that it ended. BC is hungry to build off its 4-8 campaign, as the team hopes to carry the momentum from winning two of its final three games. A long offseason gave the defense time to think about that finish, which was keyed by a unit that held each of the final three opponents to fewer than 20 points.
1. Who will replace Luke Kuechly? The short answer is no one. Kuechly's legend will only continue to grow with each passing day. But the Eagles do return plenty of talented linebackers, led by Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis. It will take a collective effort and then some for the linebackers to make up for the loss of Kuechly, but their attitude in trying can certainly rub off on the rest of the defense.
2. What happened with Harris? The school's all-time leading rusher was dismissed from the team after the spring for a repeated violation of team rules. The backfield is used to playing without him after his injury-plagued 2011 campaign, but the suddenness of Harris' departure -- which Spaziani will not get into -- has to have some effect on his former teammates, especially with Harris having been primed to chase the ACC's career rushing record this season.
3. How will the offense transition under Doug Martin? Spaziani said he was impressed with the unit coming out of the spring, but a fifth offensive coordinator in five years has to be challenging for the players. Martin has said he is looking to increase the pace, and he'll have nine starters back to work with come preseason camp.
Linemen: The depth here continues to be a priority on both sides. The decision of defensive end Max Holloway to declare early for the NFL draft was an unexpected loss, and tackle Dillon Quinn will be a senior. Offensively, the Eagles will have to replace two veterans and leaders in center Mark Spinney and guard Nate Richman.
Linebackers: All-American Luke Kuechly’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft was expected, but the staff is looking for about two or three more linebackers in this class.
Receivers: This was a young group to begin with, as Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert were both true sophomores, but the staff could use one or two more in this class.
Linemen: The Tigers will lose three starters on the defensive line and three more on the offensive line from the 2011 ACC championship team. Center Dalton Freeman is a returning starter, but he will be a senior. Six players on the final two-deep depth chart on the offensive line were either seniors or graduate students in 2011, and four on the defensive line two-deep must be replaced.
Running back: Andre Ellington is entering his senior year, and while Mike Bellamy is back in school and in the good graces of coach Dabo Swinney, the future of the position is uncertain. Rod McDowell played well in the bowl game, and D.J. Howard has been a backup.
Defensive backs: The Tigers could start three seniors in the secondary in 2012: Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.
Kickers: The Tigers will lose punter Dawson Zimmerman, opening up an opportunity for a true freshman to play immediately.
Pick and choose: The Noles have built up enough depth that they can now be selective. Instead of building a class heavy on offensive linemen, Florida State can now pick and choose the best at each position. The Noles need at least one running back, one or two quarterbacks, a few offensive tackles, a linebacker to help replace Nigel Bradham and a safety or two.
Kickers: The Noles have big shoes to fill with the graduation of punter Shawn Powell, and kicker Dustin Hopkins is entering his final season.
Running back: This is a position where a true freshman could see some playing time this year. Justus Pickett returns, along with Brandon Ross, who redshirted last year.
Quarterback: The Terps ended the 2011 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Both will be juniors and nobody is behind them.
Cornerback. Maryland has to replace Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism at cornerback, leaving Dexter McDougle the only one with any significant playing time.
Defensive line: The staff already has about six linemen committed and ends were a particular focus. Half of the linemen in the two-deep depth chart for the Belk Bowl were either juniors or seniors.
Secondary: This should be a strength for NC State in 2012, but the staff needs to prepare for the future here. Cornerback C.J. Wilson will be a senior, along with safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop.
Quarterback: Mike Glennon is already listed as a graduate student, and his backup, Tyler Brosius, redshirted this past season. The position is thin and the future uncertain behind Glennon.
Offensive line: The Deacs will lose four starters up front, but coach Jim Grobe has only played one true freshman there in 11 years. He has several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who are expected to fill in, but the staff wants to continue to build the depth at the position.
Tight end: Wake Forest will graduate its top two tight ends and will turn to two redshirt sophomores in Neil Basford and Johnny Garcia who have yet to catch a pass. It’s possible this could be a spot where an exceptional freshman could see playing time.
Defensive backs: The Deacs have to replace starting free safety Josh Bush and starting strong safety Cyhl Quarles. Cornerback Kenny Okoro will be a redshirt senior.
- There has been significant change on offense. There is an excitement around first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, and for the first time in three years, the Eagles know who their starting quarterback will be for the season opener -- Chase Rettig. In the first two scrimmages, the offense dominated the defense, and that doesn't happen at BC. In the two years prior to this year, BC's offense had never scored a touchdown in a scrimmage. Linebacker Luke Kuechly made it a point heading into the third scrimmage to make sure his teammates knew that scrimmage would be about the D, but the main storyline out of Chestnut Hill this month has been the offense.
- Running back Montel Harris underwent another arthroscopic knee surgery last week, and will miss three to four weeks, and then his backup, Andre Williams, sprained his ankle in Sunday's scrimmage. Still, the staff is confident in the depth and talent at the position, and Williams was walking around today and looked fine, according to a school spokesman, who added that Williams said it wasn't too swollen.
- The depth on the offensive line remains a question. There have been a few nagging injuries, but John Wetzel has taken over for Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, and the staff has been pleased with his progress. Mark Spinney has been working with the first team at left guard, and redshirt freshman Andy Gallik has been taking most of the first-team reps at center.
- Defensively, the Eagles are still looking for who will emerge as their starter at strongside linebacker, and Steele Divitto appears to be the frontrunner, but Nick Clancy had a good scrimmage.
- True freshman defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad has played well enough that he likely will see some meaningful snaps this fall.
- One lingering concern is the No. 2 quarterback position. If Rettig is injured, Josh Bordner is the likely backup, but he has been slowed by some back problems.
1. North Carolina: Three starters and one part-time starter return from last year’s team, and this line could be the biggest and best since Butch Davis was hired. Guard Jonathan Cooper (22 starts), center Cam Holland (20) and tackle James Hurst (12) have combined for 54 career starts. Travis Bond has four starts and is the leading candidate to take over at the other guard position.
2. Miami: The Canes return nine of their top 10 offensive linemen including four starters from last year, and Joel Figueroa was granted a sixth season of eligibility. Even with the coaching change, the Canes should be strong up front. Center Tyler Horn is a veteran, Brandon Washington is a difference-maker, and there’s enough competition that Seantrel Henderson spent most of the spring as a backup.
3. Clemson: First-year offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has four returning starters to work with in Landon Walker, Antoine McClain, Dalton Freeman and David Smith. They also have top reserve Mason Cloy, who has 19 career starts and has played in 38 games. There is plenty of depth for a dependable rotation.
4. Virginia Tech: All four returnees started every game last year, and there is enough depth that the Hokies should be able to rotate the most players up front they ever have. It’s a veteran group led by Blake DeChristopher, Andrew Lanier, Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal.
5. Florida State: Despite the losses of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, there’s experience up front. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of tackle Andrew Datko, left guard Bryan Stork or David Spurlock, center Jacob Fahrenkrug, right guard Spurlock or Stork, right tackle Zebrie Sanders. Just how good they’ll be remains to be seen as the majority of them were out with injuries this past spring.
6. NC State: The Pack lost Jake Vermiglio and will be without injured left guard Andrew Wallace for about half of the season, but Zach Allen, Camden Wentz and R.J. Mattes are returning starters. There’s also a lot of talent waiting to emerge with young players like Duran Christophe, Rob Crisp, Tyson Chandler, Torian Box and Andy Jomantas.
7. Virginia: Four players return with a combined 64 career starts in Anthony Mihota, Austin Pasztor, Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, who started the final seven games of the season as a true freshman. Pasztor is in his fourth season as a starter and has 32 career starts.
8. Boston College: Despite the losses of Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne and Rich Lapham, the Eagles are almost settled up front, it’s the experience behind the starters that’s reason for concern. The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel.
9. Maryland: It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and that didn’t change this past spring. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.
10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return three starters in guard Omoregie Uzzi, guard Will Jackson and tackle Phil Smith. Sophomore Jay Finch played extensively last season and Ray Beno and Nick McRae were key reserves. Redshirt freshmen Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey could also work their way into the rotation. Uzzi will be the leader of the line, but they were outplayed by the defense this spring.
11. Wake Forest: Four starters are back, but the Deacs will sorely miss the experience and leadership of former center Russell Nenon. Garrick Williams started the final three games of 2010 -- two at guard and one at center, but he struggled with the snaps towards the end of spring and isn’t where the staff needs him to be yet.
12. Duke: The Blue Devils should take another step forward this season under offensive line coach Matt Luke, and they need to -- Duke’s running game was last in the ACC last year and 104th in the country. Brian Moore replaces a three-year starter at center, but given his experience at right guard the past two seasons, it should be a smooth transition. That will leave a hole, though, at the right guard position, where Laken Tomlinson and John Coleman are the top candidates.
2010 conference record: 4-4
Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2
LB Luke Kuechly, P Ryan Quigley, CB Donnie Fletcher, QB Chase Rettig, TB Montel Harris, WR Bobby Swigert, WR Ifeanyi Momah, TE Chris Pantale, DE Max Holloway, DT Kaleb Ramsey
LT Anthony Castonzo, LB Mark Herzlich, DT Damik Scafe, RG Thomas Claiborne, RT Rich Lapham, CB DeLeon Gause
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Harris* (1,243 yards)
Passing: Rettig* (1,238 yds)
Receiving: Swigert* (504 yds)
Tackles: Kuechly* (183)
Sacks: Holloway* (4)
Interceptions: Fletcher* (5)
1. Starting offensive line has been rebuilt. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel. It’s a veteran group of starters, which is important considering the losses of three starters, including Castonzo, who had a league-high 54 starts and is a likely first-round draft pick.
2. The offensive depth and experience has improved. The Eagles return their leading rusher, passer and receiver from a year ago. They enter the fall set at every starting position on offense, and 10 of the 13 receivers who caught a pass last year return. Coach Frank Spaziani said everyone got better this spring, including Rettig, who was forced to play as a true freshman last year.
3. Two spring enrollees could contribute immediately. Four-star cornerback Al Louis-Jean really turned some heads this spring as a backup to Fletcher, and was ranked the No. 9 cornerback in the nation in his recruiting class by ESPN Recruiting. True freshman Mehdi Abdesmad also had a good spring and could see playing time at defensive end behind Holloway.
1. How much better is Rettig in the new system? There’s no doubt that Rettig will be better in his second season as a starter, but how will the sophomore adjust to the new scheme under first-year coordinator Kevin Rogers? Spaziani has said that the offense won’t look dramatically different, but there is new terminology involved and there will be some wrinkles.
2. Will the Eagles develop depth up front? The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen: i.e. no experience. The defensive line will be young, and so will its backups. This summer will be critical for getting the linemen more reps and finding rotations the staff is comfortable with.
3. What is this team’s offensive identity? This spring wasn’t a good indicator of what BC’s offense will look like, as star tailback Montel Harris was held out of the scrimmages for precautionary reasons, and his backup, Andre Williams, was nursing a shoulder injury. The Eagles also hope to get receiver Colin Larmond Jr. back this summer from a knee injury he sustained before last season, and BC will be under the direction of a new offensive coordinator.
“That’s a big concern,” Spaziani said.
The good news for BC fans is that the offensive line has more depth than it did a year ago. Nathan Richman started 10 games last year, Mark Spinney started the last eight games at center, and Emmett Cleary also made 10 starts -- five at left guard, five at right tackle. There is also better depth at the running back position, where Andre Williams has proved to be a more than capable backup to Montel Harris.
All of them made the transition this spring into a new system under first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers. Just how much progress quarterback Chase Rettig made remains to be seen.
“He’s gotten better in a lot of aspects, but the true test is when you get into real games,” Spaziani said. “He has a better understanding of what we expect and the people around him. By no means is he a finished product.”
That’s the case for the entire roster.
“We have young guys who have to show us they can produce in a big-time situation,” Spaziani said. “Our schedule doesn’t lend itself to not being ready real fast. That’s a concern, a big concern. We have to get these guys up to speed so they can produce before 80,000 people.”
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
- The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
- The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
Spring practice starts: March 7
Spring game: April 9
What to watch:
- Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
- The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
- Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
- Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
- Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: April 30
What to watch:
- New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
- Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
- Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
Spring practice starts: March 17
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
- A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
- Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16
What to watch:
- Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
- A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
- Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.
- Miami must miss the Big East. It looks like Rutgers could be up next.
- It's wait-and-see for anyone watching Miami's Jacory Harris.
- Unfortunately for Harris, he's forever tied to the four interceptions at Ohio State -- regardless of who's fault they were.
- Georgia Tech has allowed a 100-yard rusher in six straight games. The Jackets would like that to stop this weekend against NC State.
- Virginia kicker Robert Randolph's job hasn't exactly been a snap so far this year.
- There are a few Terps who do their best to keep their teammates loose.
- With Thomas Claiborne injured, Mark Spinney's dream will come true when he starts at right guard.
- Clemson running back Andre Ellington might not be the home run threat C.J. Spiller was, but he's off to a better start in yards per carry.
- There are no guarantees for NC State, but history says a 3-0 start bodes well for finishing with a winning record.
- UNC shouldn't hold its breath as it appeals the NCAA's suspensions of two players.
- Has Kendric Burney been punished unfairly?
- FSU backup quarterback E.J. Manuel has been getting some significant reps this week while starter Christian Ponder rests his bruised triceps.
- Virginia Tech's offensive linemen responded against ECU.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Last Friday night, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich and defensive end Jim Ramella hit the town for a teammate's birthday. It seemed like a typical weekend in Chestnut Hill, and that's exactly how Herzlich -- who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma -- is trying to keep it.
"Going out and talking to him, you wouldn't know that he has cancer, you really wouldn't," said Ramella. "He's totally normal about it. He doesn't mope around and feel sorry for himself. He'll have a good time. From what I've heard, everything is going well with his treatments."
That doesn't mean Herzlich -- and others like him with rare diseases -- don't need your support. This afternoon is a good chance to show it, as the Boston College chapter of Uplifting Athletes will host its inaugural event, the "Lift For Life," at 6 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend this strength and conditioning competition to show their support. At least 60 football players are expected to participate, including Montel Harris, Wes Davis, Matt Tennant, Rich Gunnell and incoming freshmen. Donations can be made online at www.upliftingathletes.org.
"That will be a great event," Ramella said. "Each player has an online site to raise money and I think we're close to $10,000. And then the event is pretty much like a strong-man competition. There will be about six or eight different events people can come and watch. It's really good for us because it's a way to help our Mark. What else can we do? It's good to do it for him."
Herzlich hopes to be able to attend.
"It's humbling for me to learn that not only are my teammates supporting me, but that my situation has inspired them to do something that will help a lot of people facing similar challenges," Herzlich said in a prepared statement. "I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Lift For Life and personally thanking them."
Uplifting Athletes chapters are run by current football players on college campuses across the country, including Colgate University, Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State -- each benefiting a rare disease relevant to their team.
Current Eagles responsible for planning their chapter's Lift For Life event include Ryan Lindsey, James McCluskey, Damik Scafe, Billy Flutie, Thomas Claiborne, Wes Davis, Mark Spinney, Marcellus Bowman and Darius Bagan. That's exactly the kind of leadership this team needs right now, so congrats to those players who took the initiative to get this event going.
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said he hopes Herzlich will continue to be an encouraging presence throughout the season.
"Whatever his doctors and his medical situation will allow, and his physical status will allow, we want him around as much as possible," Spaziani said. "I know he wants to be around."