Thursday, September 22, 2011 Updated: September 23, 2:28 PM ET
BC newcomer getting noticed
By Jack McCluskey ESPNBoston.com
NEWTON, Mass. -- It was just another play, just another defensive call in another practice. So why would a seemingly random play in a Tuesday session stand out?
Because on this call, the star got corrected by the no-name (at least not yet) newcomer.
"It's kinda funny, actually," the star, linebacker Luke Kuechly, said. "I called something, it was wrong, and Spense said 'It should be this,' and, 'Oh, you're actually right.'"
Spense is true freshman Spenser Rositano, the strong safety who was forced into action this season when Okechukwu Okoroha (dismissal) and Dominick LeGrande (transfer) left the team in training camp. And if you listen to a few of his teammates, his is a name to know.
BC's Spenser Rositano hits Duke wide receiver Brandon Braxton during the first half of last Saturday's game.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Ashburn, Va., had a noticeable debut for the Eagles. But we'll get to that. First, let's get him to Chestnut Hill from that town of a little more than 43,000 people roughly 30 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.
Rositano played safety and wide receiver for the Stone Bridge High School Bulldogs. As a senior, he made 79 tackles (61 solo) and snagged six interceptions, taking two of them back for six points. BC, Pitt and Virginia recruited him, but when it came down to it, he loved the atmosphere and academic profile of one school best.
"My first visit I just felt at home," he said of Boston College. "So I just knew if they offered I would definitely commit. So when it came I just took advantage of it."
And while playing time was far from guaranteed when he committed to the Eagles, the idea was always to play as a freshman.
"That was my goal, but I was willing to do whatever I needed to do to help the team," Rositano said before practice Wednesday. "And I guess things happened with the team, so I got thrown into the fire. Just playing ball now."
Back to that debut. With the depth chart for the defensive backfield in tatters, Rositano found himself starting the third scrimmage in training camp. Then he suffered a concussion, sustained on a helmet-to-helmet hit, and missed some time. He played a little on special teams in Week 2, against UCF.
In Week 3, against Duke, he earned his first real game time. And he made some plays that stood out -- blocking a punt, forcing a fumble and making five tackles.
"I think Spenser's gonna be a good player. He's a football player," Kuechly said, handing out what passes for high praise among the Eagles. "I think his first game was UCF, he had those wide eyes going on, you know? But he's already making plays. He forced a fumble, he blocked a kick; I think he's starting to settle in a little bit."
Frank Spaziani isn't ready to anoint Rositano yet, but the third-year head coach is willing to acknowledge the freshman's latent talent.
"Rositano's a football player. I like him," Spaziani said.
The analogy Spaziani chose to describe him? "It's like a wine before its time." In other words, he should get better with age.
"He's getting on-the-job training," Spaziani said. "He's a good player. I can't see into the future, but he's got a lot of the stuff you like. And he's producing some stuff."
The blocked punt was the first for the Eagles since Ifeanyi Momah blocked a kick against Notre Dame in November 2008.
"He played an amazing game," linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis said. "He had some flashes that showed what he can truly be. He's still learning, just like a bunch of us on the defense, including myself, but I was totally surprised at the way he played Saturday. It was like he's been there for every snap prior to that."
Of course, he hasn't been. The action he got with the defense versus Duke was his first. And while his role with that unit may increase going forward -- he's listed second on the depth chart for the UMass game -- to this point his biggest impact has been on special teams.
That's OK by Rositano. He believes that performing on special teams helps a player develop. You need to learn your assignments and make sure they're done on time.
"You're going out and one play could be a difference-maker in the game," he said.
"If you mess up, you can mess up the whole scheme of things. So just going out and doing your simple play can make or break it."
Rositano singled out cornerback Donnie Fletcher and Kuechly as guys who've had a big influence on him to this point in his college career. The freshman watches the veterans work and takes note.
That's the way it was for Kuechly as a freshman, when Wes Davis and Mike Morrissey showed him the ropes.
"He's gonna be a good player; he works hard every day," Kuechly said. "I like having him out there."
And though Rositano is only three games into his career, he's already sounding like a veteran.
"We're just gonna act like we're 0-0 going into this week and just build on that," he said. "Start playing like a family, and hopefully go out and get win No. 1."
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.