Originally Published: July 25, 2010

BC's Herzlich Turns His Attention To Field

By Mark Schlabach

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich knows he has already overcome tremendous odds in his fight against cancer.

When doctors diagnosed Herzlich in May 2009 with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, they told him he would never be able to run again. He underwent months of chemotherapy and radiation, and doctors inserted a titanium rod into his left leg to stabilize it.

[+] Enlarge
Bob Donnan/US PresswireExpectations are still high for T.J. Yates and North Carolina despite a tumultuous summer for the Tar Heels.

All the while, Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was convinced he would beat cancer. And Herzlich never doubted that he would eventually return to the football field as one of the country's most feared linebackers.

"I knew it was going to be tough," Herzlich said. "I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it was going to be long. I knew I had to go at it with everything I had. There were days that were tough."

These days are much better for Herzlich. He returned to Boston College's football team for spring practice and did everything but participate in contact drills. Initially, he was bothered by the titanium rod in his leg, which limited his flexibility and lateral movement.

But after participating in offseason workouts this summer, Herzlich said his left leg is stronger than ever. Doctors were surprised by its density in recent X-rays, and Herzlich has been medically cleared to participate in contact drills when the Eagles open preseason camp on Aug. 9.

"Hitting is the best part of what I do," Herzlich said. "A lot of it is mental, but a linebacker has to be angry and hit people hard all the time."

During his junior season in 2008, Herzlich hit people and created havoc better than anyone else. He finished with 110 tackles, six interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

"I think everybody is going to compare what I do this year to what I did in 2008," Herzlich said. "I'm going to compare what I do this year to what I did in 2008. I'm not settling for anything less or expecting anything less."

Herzlich said doctors have told him that his left leg isn't more susceptible to injury than his right one. But if Herzlich were to break his left leg, its chances of healing properly would be diminished because of the effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

"I can't play overly cautious," Herzlich said. "Whether a freak accident happens to me on the field or in a car accident, I can't let it bother me. I have to make my leg as strong as possible. If some freak accident happens, it happens."

Senior left tackle Anthony Castonzo says the Eagles will be a better team with their emotional leader back on the field.

"He's kept such an optimistic outlook through the entire thing," Castonzo said. "He never thought he wasn't going to play football again. It is something he loves and he's not going to let it be taken away from him."

Cloud Of Uncertainty Hanging Over Tar Heels

By Mark Schlabach

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina football coach Butch Davis arrived at ACC Football Kickoff on Sunday wearing a straw hat and carrying a golf bag.

[+] Enlarge
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireGeorgia Tech's Roddy Jones expects to catch a few more balls for the Yellow Jackets in 2010.

If any coach in the country needs a break from the events of the last few weeks, it is Davis, whose Tar Heels program is under scrutiny by NCAA investigators, who have questioned at least two UNC players -- senior defensive tackle Marvin Austin and senior receiver Greg Little -- about their possible dealings with sports agents and a trip to Miami to attend an agent's party.

"It's a little frustrating because it's obviously distracting to our football team," quarterback T.J. Yates said. "But we're going to get past it and get over it. It will be forgotten in the heart of the season."

Yates can only hope the Tar Heels are able to put the investigation behind them before they open the season against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Sept. 4.

"We're not allowed to talk about it," Yates said. "A lot of guys on the team, we don't really know what's going on. Nobody really knows what's going on. It's going to be a thing that whatever happens we've got to take it and run with it. We'll get better from it no matter what."

Tar Heels defensive end Robert Quinn said he expects Austin to be with the Tar Heels when they open the season.

"Right now, he's going to be there," Quinn said. "That's how I look at it."

Yellow Jackets Adding New Wrinkle To Attack?

By Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Georgia Tech needs to pass the ball if the Jackets are going to be a national title contender, A-back Roddy Jones said. That's something they weren't able to do in the Orange Bowl against Iowa last season, and after going back and watching film, Jones said they learned from it and worked on their passing game this past spring.

Jones said Georgia Tech "definitely" will be making more use of Joshua Nesbitt's arm this fall.

"It's something we've been trying to do for the past couple of years, actually," Jones said. "We're trying to get more involved in the passing game, especially with Bay-Bay [Demaryius Thomas] being gone, somebody is going to have to step up and fill that void. I think you're going to see a lot of A-backs catching passes out of the backfield and taking a bigger role in the passing game."

Jones said this year's playbook should be a little more creative and will keep defenses guessing because there will be more options than Thomas.

"I think it's going to be more of a receiver by committee this year," Jones said. "You don't replace all of the receiving yards Bay-Bay had with just one person. Stephen Hill and Tyler Melton are going to do great jobs out there. Stephen is a heck of a talent you may not have seen as much and Tyler is poised for a big year. … We're guys who are very capable of catching the ball and I think you'll see a lot more of it this year."

Tigers' Parker Puts MLB Riches On Hold

By Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Clemson offensive lineman Chris Hairston's job just got tougher. He's not only protecting the Tigers' record-setting quarterback -- he's potentially protecting a future millionaire.

"Oh yeah, man, I'm going to have to talk to the [Colorado] Rockies about a little incentive plan to keep that man out of injury, out of harm's way," Hairston said.

Kyle Parker's decision to return to the football team instead of joining the Rockies as a first-round draft pick has given his teammates increased confidence in defending their Atlantic Division title.

"It just gives us an experienced quarterback," said safety DeAndre McDaniel. "We can have a more balanced offense. With Tajh [Boyd] being there we would've had a few more mistakes because he's a freshman, but with Kyle coming back the offense will cut down on some of the mistakes and do more play-action with that big run game we're supposed to have this year."


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?