Last night, Everett High junior defensive back Lukas Denis announced his verbal commitment to Boston College, becoming the second in-state prospect to pledge with the Eagles this week, and the latest in a prosperous pipeline of Crimson Tide defensive backs to BC.
"I'm proud to say I'm part of something," Denis said of the pipeline between Everett and BC. "The city of Everett is always gonna be at my games. My family is all behind me. I'm very excited."
When Denis arrives in Chestnut Hill in 2015, he will become the fourth Everett player to suit up in the Eagles' secondary since 2008, joining Isaac Johnson, Jim Noel and Manny Asprilla. Noel, the oldest sibling in a gifted family that includes brothers Rodman (NC State football) and Nerlens (Philadelphia 76ers), signed with the Seattle Seahawks for minicamp last spring as an undrafted free agent.
"I've known every single one of those players," Denis said. "I've gotten to know them over a period of time, I've been there to watch them at practice, see how they operate. Their opinion does matter. Getting all that information from them about their positive experience [at BC], I believe it’s a great place for me to be.... I believe I had the greatest connection with Manny Asprilla. My brother played with him throughout his years, he was a very humble child."
It's worth noting that all three of those past Everett players -- Johnson, Noel and Asprilla -- all contributed in the Eagles' secondary as true freshmen. The common thread, Denis says, has been their work ethic.
"I would say we’re used to working hard, so when we get up there we have an advantage. Most of us are physical, man [to man] type players, which is something they like at BC," Denis said.
As a sophomore in 2012, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Denis was slated to compete for the starting quarterback job with the graduation of the state's second all-time leader in passing touchdowns, Jonathan DiBiaso. A shoulder injury kept him sidelined for the first half of the season, but he eventually made his impact late in the season as a nickelback.
This past fall, Denis had his breakthrough campaign, earning ESPN Boston All-State honors after helping the Crimson Tide reach the Division 1 North Finals. From the cornerback spot, Denis registered 32 tackles and one interception. As a wide receiver, he had 14 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns, and returned a punt for another score.
For this season, Denis says he will likely be playing wide receiver again, which means we could see promising youngster Jordan McAfee competing at quarterback.
Denis had a few more quotes for ESPNBoston.com on his commitment to the Eagles:
Factors in his decision: "I realized there was nothing else that I was waiting for that could be bigger than this. This is what I wanted, I felt at home. I have a good relationship with the coaches, they remind me of Everett High. I want to go where I'm comfortable and play for the city that I play for. I guess I would say because I didn't see any other offer that could change my mind, that's just the way I did it."
What he liked about the coaching staff: "The way they operate. The coaches, they know what they want, I like their defense, it fits what I'm capable of -- a lot of man coverage. Their corners are aggressive, they get the chance to go in and make plays instead of waiting for things to happen. At Everett High, when we come across a great receiver-quarterback combination we want to mess up the timing on their route."
What the Eagles like about him: "I believe it’s how I can play man, they have man defensive backs [and] I'm usually quite aggressive with receivers. On defense, my mindset is I don't want any receivers catching any passes on me. I don't want them getting off the line of scrimmage."