Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Addazio stays true to local approach
By Jack McCluskey
The Eagles’ latest football haul has a distinctly local flavor to it, with seven Massachusetts players joining the fold for 2014.
Boston College’s seven-member Massachusetts delegation leads the Class of 2014, with the second most players coming from New Jersey (six), followed by Florida (five), Connecticut, Georgia and Pennsylvania (two each) and Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island (one each).
That’s by design.
“It was an emphasis for us,” BC coach Steve Addazio said Wednesday afternoon in a Signing Day conference call to announce the signings. “We want to make sure that we get the best players out of the state of Massachusetts. We’re building a fence. I said that when I took this job in my first press conference and I’m sticking to it.
“We are gonna make sure that guys like Jon Baker, who I think is gonna be a big-time offensive lineman, and James Hendren, Connor Strahan, Troy Flutie, Isaac Yiadom [stay in-state and come to BC], these are all the Massachusetts guys. I’m so fired up about these guys.”
The seven recruits from Massachusetts is more than three times as many local players as the Eagles brought in as part of the Class of 2013, with only Tevin Montgomery (Marion, Mass./Tabor Academy) and Mackay Lowrie (West Roxbory, Mass./Roxbury Latin School) staying in-state and playing their college ball for BC. (Lowrie has since left the program.)
Addazio sounded genuinely excited about the in-state talent the Eagles signed.
“Kevin Bletzer, out of Catholic Memorial, we really feel like he’s gonna be a hell of a football player now,” Addazio said. “We feel great about that.”
Of the group, Strachan (Wellesley, Mass./Saint Sebastian’s Country Day School) is the highest rated by ESPN’s RecruitingNation (see table at right for a complete breakdown).
A four-star prospect and the No. 21 recruit at inside linebacker, RN says the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Strachan is “a physical and athletic prospect capable of seeing early action at the BCS level of play. Could possibly contribute on offense as a fullback and on special teams. Falling under the radar due to lack of ideal length.”
When asked how realistic it was to expect that some of BC’s defensive recruits would get on the field early on, Addazio said it was “extremely realistic” and then pointed to a couple of the Mass. products as examples.
“It’s going to happen,” he said. “You’ve got guys like Connor Strachan, he’s a big, fast guy. We anticipate that he’s gonna be a heck of a player. He’s a very mature guy and he’s gonna be able to come in and help us right away.
“And on the back end, a guy like Isaac Yiadom [who the Eagles will use as a defensive back] has really, really good speed.”
Of course, Troy Flutie has to be the local product and BC signee with perhaps the most interest surrounding him. Nephew of Doug Flutie, the BC legend and Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Flutie broke multiple passing records as the star quarterback for Natick High School and was named ESPNBoston.com’s Mr. Football in 2013.
At 6-foot and 170 pounds, Troy Flutie was somewhat lightly recruited. But after getting an up-close look at him, Addazio and his staff saw something in the Redhawks star that made the Eagles want to offer him a scholarship.
“We had Troy in camp and he’s just got ‘it,’” Addazio said. “He’s a guy that has a knack for anticipating guys being open. He’s got a really unbelievable confidence about him. And he’s just got that demeanor that’s got leadership to it. He’s a dynamic athlete.
“You go through camp, you do all the fundamental drills and then [BC offensive coordinator] Ryan Day puts them in a little bit of razzle dazzle. And you watch those guys when they do that razzle dazzle they just kinda own the field, these guys just kinda have it. He’s got it all.”
Whether he’ll get a shot under center remains to be seen, though the Eagles do have him listed as a quarterback/athlete.
When he was asked about Florida graduate transfer Tyler Murphy potentially serving as a mentor to the younger quarterbacks the Eagles are bringing in, Addazio included Flutie in the mix. But later he said that Murphy, freshman Darius Wade (Middletown, Del./Middletown High School) and sophomore James Walsh will take the bulk of the snaps in spring ball.
But bringing in Flutie, even if he doesn’t wind up at quarterback, fits Addazio’s blueprint. He wants competitive guys who love football and will contribute in any way possible, just as Josh Bordner -- the Eagles’ backup quarterback in 2013 -- is trying to do now.
Addazio said the staff will experiment with Bordner at multiple positions, including wide receiver, this winter and spring in order to find a way to get the athletic, 6-4, 220-pounder on the field.
Though BC rebounded from a 2-10 finish to 2012 to go 7-6 and reach a bowl game for the first time in three years in the first year under Addazio, the Eagles’ coaches know they still have a long way to go. And Addazio knows that building the kind of team he wants to build in Chestnut Hill starts at home.
“As we move forward here we’re gonna keep our fence built around Massachusetts,” he said. “We’re gonna be out early and on top of all of that.
“Talk about working inside-out, build it in Massachusetts and work out into the five-hour radius. That’s our plan, we stuck to that and we’ll continue to stick to that.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.