2011 Season Preview: Spaziani follows successful model, bumps up BC's recruiting

Eagles earn reputation as over-achievers, but there's more to it than that

Andre Ellington is tackled by Boston College's Luke Kuechly during last year's game at Clemson.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Andre Ellington is tackled by Boston College's Luke Kuechly during last year's game at Clemson.

Over-achiever.

That’s the reputation (and slightly back-handed compliment) the Boston College football program has earned during its time as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference – the perception being that the Eagles’ on-field success has greater than the annual recruiting rankings would predict.

But there’s more to it than that. In establishing Boston College as one of college football’s most consistent high-performers, former coach Tom O’Brien succeeded by recruiting players who fit his idea of what BC football should be.

Frank Spaziani has followed suit, and has perhaps upped the ante a bit in successfully targeting a higher percentage of elite, four-star level recruits.

Boston College did some of its best recruiting work close to home last season in putting together a class ranked 34th nationally by Scout and 38th by Rivals.

The Eagles signed the No. 1 and 2 players in Massachusetts, according to Rivals’ rankings, in tight end Brian Miller of Andover and defensive back Albert Louis-Jean of Brockton. Both players are ranked among the top 15 players nationally at their positions.

Spaziani also signed a pair of top-20 position players in defensive end Connor Wujciak of West Orange, NJ and inside linebacker Steven Daniels of Cincinnati, OH.

The Eagles also signed Daniels’ three-star teammate, outside linebacker Sean Duggan, who formed one of the nation’s top high school linebacking tandems at St. Xavier High.

Restocking the defense upon which the Eagles lean so heavily was the top recruiting priority for 2011. In addition to Daniels, Wujciak, Louis-Jean and Duggan, Spaziani signed defensive ends Mehdi Abdesmad of Montreal, Canada; Kieran Borcich of Bronxville, NY and Brian Mihalik of Avon Lake, OH, as well as linebacker Nick Lifka of Naperville, IL.

In addition to signing two players from Canada, Spaziani and his staff covered 10 states in assembling their 23-man class. They signed five from Massachusetts, three each from Ohio and Illinois, two each from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and one each from Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and Missouri.

Their SC signee – Alex Howell of Florence – was rated as the nation’s No. 5 kicker by ESPN.

They signed one quarterback – three-star prospect Christian Suntrup out of St. Louis, MO – for whom they won a head-to-head battle with Miami.

There were no signing-day surprises for the Eagles, as almost all of BC’s class was committed well ahead of the recruiting home stretch.

That’s the way it was under O’Brien, and that’s the way it should remain, according to Spaziani.

Spaziani told the Boston Globe that BC kids generally decide whether the school is a fit very early in their recruitment.

“I’ve been here 15 years,’’ said Spaziani, “and we almost never had anyone commit late. They come on their visits and they say, ‘Yeah, that will work for me,’ or they say, ‘It was nice, but I think I will look somewhere else.’ ’’

ESPN rated last year’s class sixth in the ACC – the school’s best recruiting ranking in the past five years.

Spaziani and his staff already have eight players committed for their 2012 class, including three players from New Jersey, three from Virginia, and one each from Massachusetts and Ohio.

Committed players are: offensive lineman Jim Cashman from Haddonfield, NJ, athlete Dan Crimmins from Demasrest, NY, defensive end Malachi Moore from Sparta, NJ, offensive lineman Fran Taylor from Warminster, VA, wide receiver Harrison Jackson of Purcellville, VA, offensive lineman Win Homer of Christchurch, VA, tight end Sam Grant of North Royalton, OH, and linebacker Tim Joy of North Chelmsford, MA.

O&W 2011 Season Preview

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