Not many surprises for Frank Spaziani's coaching staff on National Signing Day, as the school announced the signing of 16 members of the Class of 2016. This was the smallest of Spaz's three recruiting classes, and was also smaller than the transition class of 2009 (18). This year's class was split right down the middle -- eight players on the offensive side of the ball, and eight players on the defensive side.
Let's take a look at what the team needs were coming into this recruiting period, and how the team met its goals.
When evaluating what this class needs, it's important to first look at the players BC is losing. Luckily, the Eagles don't lose much from this year's 4-8 squad and should return a total of 19 starters (nine offensive, nine defensive and one specialist) next season. Gone from the offense are guys like Nathan Richman, Mark Spinney, Lars Anderson and Ifeanyi Momah. Gone from the defense are Dan Williams, Will Thompson and Donnie Fletcher (graduation), as well as Luke Kuechly and Max Holloway (NFL Draft). Ryan Quigley is the only specialist lost. How will Spaz and the coaching staff look to replace these players?
Let's start with the offensive line, which was a big focus of this year's class. BC picks up three offensive linemen in in Jim Cashman, Win Homer and Frank Taylor, while losing both Nate Richman and Mark Spinney to graduation. Look for Bobby Vardaro and Andy Gallik to replace Richman and Spinney, respectively. Spaz could also move Ian White or Vardaro to center and shift Gallik to guard next season. Both Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel will be seniors next year, while backup tackles Aaron Kramer and Seth Betancourt are going into their sophomore seasons. Cashman, Homer and Taylor will benefit from the coaching of first year line coach Jim Bollman and will likely redshirt next season and take the time to learn the Eagles blocking system and train under guys like Cleary, Wetzel and White.
I felt that depth on the defensive line should have also been a focus of this year's class, but BC landed just one defensive lineman in this year's class after Jaxon Hood signed with Arizona State. Six-foot-6, 240 pound defensive tackle Malachi Moore is this year's only defensive lineman in the small class. BC loses both left ends on the final regular season two deep in Max Holloway and Dan Williams, while Conor O'Neal and Dillon Quinn will be seniors. Spaz mentioned that we are looking for elite talent at DT, but at some point the lack of depth on the defensive line is going to catch up with this program.
Even without the services of Luke Kuechly, Boston College is stacked at linebacker, yet the Eagles brought in four more players in Steven Daniels, Tim Joy, Mike Strizak and Bobby Wolford. There's probably not a deeper unit on the roster on either side of the ball, with players like Kevin Pierre-Louis, Steele Divitto, Sean Duggan and Andre Lawrence going into their junior and sophomore campaigns. I have no idea whether Daniels will clear the academic hurdles necessary to see the field, but BC is probably set at LB next season with or without Daniels.
BC brought in three wide receivers in this year's class -- Iowa transfer Marcus Grant, Harrison Jackson and Karim Zoungrana. None of these guys came very highly rated, while Grant is probably the most polished of the bunch. Grant caught just one ball for 12 yards in five games with Iowa. Under transfer rules, he'll be required to sit out 2012. Guys like Colin Larmond Jr. and Donte Elliot will be seniors this year, while Alex Amidon, Johnathan Coleman and Bobby Swigert will all be juniors. With the departures of Shakim Phillips and Clyde Lee and the NCAA denying Ifeanyi Momah's request for a sixth year of eligibility, I would have liked to see BC fill the gap at WR a little better. Last year, Spaz recruited just one WR (Spiffy Evans) and two years out the Eagles will only have Grant, Jackson, Zoungrana and Evans at wide out.
I was happy to see BC snag Michael Giacone away from Rutgers, and Giacone will be joined by Dan Crimmins at tight end. The Eagles will have to replace Lars Anderson at TE, while Pantale enters his senior season. I'm interested to see how tight ends will factor into Doug Martin's offense.
Finally, Spaz added David Dudeck, Bryce Jones and Justin SImmons to the secondary. Donnie Fletcher is the only player on the final two-deep that will have to be replaced next season, and with a healthy C.J. Jones, the Eagles secondary is still fairly young and inexperienced given that so many of the players on the roster got thrown to the fire this season (including Al Louis-Jean Jr., Spenser Rositano, Sean Sylvia and Manny Asprilla).
As for what the Eagles didn't get, we can probably most afford to swing and miss at the running back position, where BC has a very crowded backfield in 2012. Montel Harris returns after being granted a medical waiver to return for a fifth season and will be joined by Andre Williams, Rolandan Finch and Tahj Kimble. Still, I would have liked to see BC land a running back in this class after missing out on Akeel Lynch. That said, depth and injuries remain a concern in the backfield as the Eagles stable of RBs was very banged up this past season.
There are also no specialists in the class, though Scout.com lists long snapper Leonard Skubal as a member of the class. However, Skubal isn't named in the BC press release, so many he's being brought in as a recruited walk-on. The Eagles lose the kicking/punting services of Ryan Quigley next season, but Alex Howell should be able to fill in for Quigley and/or Freese.
No quarterbacks in this year's class either, though BC did recruit several players that lined up under center in high school, including Bryce Jones and David Dudeck. BC does have Christian Suntrup from the 2011 class waiting in the wings behind Chase Rettig, Dave Shinskie, Josh Bordner and Mike Marscovetra. Quarterback wasn't necessarily a recruiting need for this year's class, but (knock wood) if Rettig goes down to injury, Martin and the offense could be scrambling to find a long-term solution at QB.
All in all, I was a little disappointed with this class, both in terms of numbers and fulfilling this team's recruiting needs. Particularly on the D line and in the secondary, where two of the three commits were lightly recruited and very late adds to the class (Jones and Dudeck). There really isn't a good reason why this class is as small as it is, as BC is now several scholarships short of the 85-scholarship limit. I understand that Spaz likes to reward walk-ons and evaluate fifth-year players and then make further determinations as far as scholarships, but BC currently has a roster with an NCAA sanctions number of scholarships. It didn't have to be that way.
Further, while this class totals 16, it is really more like just 14 when you consider Steven Daniels also counted towards last year's class and Marcus Grant is a transfer. This year's class seemed to never fully recovered from the de-commitments of Sam Grant, Akeel Lynch and Jaxon Hood, among others.