It's never too soon to begin thinking about the 2012 Boston College football depth chart. Earlier this month, we took a look at the changes in offense. Today we look at the defense
-- The ACC grants medical hardship waivers to DT Kaleb Ramsey, DB C.J. Jones and LB Connor Wujciak. This gave Ramsey, Jones and Wujciak an extra year of eligibility.
-- LB Luke Kuechly declares for the NFL Draft as a junior
-- Junior DE Max Holloway also declares for the NFL Draft
-- CB Donnie Fletcher and LB Will Thompson are both out of eligibility
After factoring in all of the above, let's look at how the defense will be stacking up in 2012.
2011 was a giant disappointment in terms of the development of the defense. For the first time in years, BC looked vulnerable, and had difficulties against all types of offenses. They looked completely lost against UCF, got trucked by FSU, and let Sean Renfree look like Case Keenum against them. There were lots of excuses that could be pointed to that led to their difficulties, biggest among them their inexperience. This year they grow one year older, but their is a huge gap this year as the best defensive player in the country Luke Kuechly is gone. How will the defense rebound?
Gone: Max Holloway
Returning: Kasim Edebali is the end with the most experience on team, playing every game last season while finishing last season with 27 tackles, and five pass break ups. Mehdi Abdesmad (3 games), Brian Mahilik (8 games) also have some game experience, though it may be limited.
Incoming: Malachi Moore
BC had all sorts of problems pressuring the quarterback last season finishing dead last in the country in sacks. Holloway was the co-leader with two, and now he is gone. Edebali had a solid 2011 season, but there is a lot of question marks lining up opposite him. Mahalik looked the strongest when healthy, but if any of these three get injured there isn't a whole lot of depth at defensive end.
Returning: Kaleb Ramsey has to be the biggest addition to this defense going into 2012. Hampered by injuries in 2011, he was limited to one game before he was red shirted. He will be joined up front by Conor O'Neal, Jaryd Rudolph, Dillon Quinn, Max Ricci, Kieran Borcich and Dominic Appiah. Appiah appeared to have the strongest 2011 season, recording 36 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.
BC has a strong core of defensive tackles with game experience that should provide an anchor for an improved defense. If Appiah and Ramsey can cause pressure on the quarterback and improve the run defense, it will improve the over all game of the linebackers and secondary. But that is a huge if.
Gone: Luke Kuechly
Returning: Kevin Pierre Louis will have to continue the legacy of great Boston College linebackers this year. Sean Duggan also showed that he can be an immediate impact contributor for the Eagles, finishing the season with 2 sacks and 39 tackles. Steele Divitto, Nick Clancy, Andre Lawrence, Josh Keyes all will be factors going into the next season. Jake Sinkovec is listed in the 2012 roster as a linebacker, but his role could be unclear.
Incoming: Steven Daniels, Tim Joy, Mike Strizak, and Bobby Wolford
There is loads of talent at linebacker for Boston College going into the 2012 season. But the biggest question remains, who will pick up the talent gap that Luke Kuechly left behind. KPL had a solid sophomore campaign, and Sean Duggan emerged as a name to watch, but Kuechly's shoes are not going to be easy to fill. Solid play by all members of this LB group will need to happen.
Gone: Donnie Fletcher
Returning: Decimated by injuries in 2011, the Boston College secondary will have more immediate impact players returning to their roster. Dominique Williams, Jim Noel and C.J. Jones both missed portions of 2011, and their presence should add depth to a depleted unit. Al Louis Jean was an immediate contributor in his freshman campaign, but was prone to freshmen mistakes. Sean Sylvia, Manny Asprilla, Spencer Rositano, Hampton Hughes and Ted Davenport all saw playing time last season. Ameer Richardson and Joe Lacorte Jr. are also listed on the roster.
Incoming: David Dudeck, Justin Simmons and Bryce Jones
The secondary was a hot mess for most of 2011, getting absolutely torched by many of the quarterbacks they faced. They did seem to settle down near the end, but they are going to need to stay healthy if they want to improve in 2012.