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Breaking Down the Boston College Football Roster: The Defensive Line

A new group takes to the Trenches

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Central Michigan at Boston College
Promising young talent will need to step-up if Karafa and the BC D-Line want to remain stalwart
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the departures of key defensive line standouts Zach Allen, Wyatt Ray, and Ray Smith, the Eagles will need to find their replacements quickly in order continue the Eagle’s defense’s dominant ways.

Tanner Karafa DL – Graduate Student

In the wake of Zach Allen’s departure Karafa stands as his potential successor from a productivity standpoint. With 47 total tackles, third on the team in sack, and fourth on the team in tackles for loss, Karafa stands atop the D-line statistically but he will need to maintain or even increase this level of production in order for BC’s defense to maintain its stalwart reputation. Hopefully, Karafa’s production in just his first year at D-Tackle (after playing end the previous year) foreshadow an even better season.

Richard Yeargrin DL – Graduate Student

Yeargrin lost two season (2017 and 2018) of his college career to a serious neck injury sustained in car accident (see but before that he was highly sought after US Army All-American, choosing to attend ACC rival Clemson. He played 22 games at Clemson recording 29 tackles, including five for a loss, and 1.5 sacks (see Not super impressive until your remember he was playing on the same team Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, and Dexter Lawrence who happen to all be top 25 draft picks in this year’s NFL draft. Yeargrin’s has a good build for a D-end at 6’4” 280 lbs but it’s that body that is the big concern. It is hard to say what or how much we can expect from Yeargrin coming off such an injury, but he’s come far enough that he shouldn’t be written off yet. Regardless of whether Yeargrin returns to form or not, the fact that he is on the field at all is a victory enough in itself and worth a standing ovation from all of Alumni Stadium.

TJ Rayam DT – Junior

Playing 16 of 24 games in his first two year, TJ Rayam recorded most of his stats this past year and now could challenge for a starting role. With the second most experience and production among the Eagles’s D-tackles with 8 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Rayam has the opportunity to assert himself this year but will have to up his production even more to contend with the promising underclassmen.

Brendan Barlow DL – Redshirt Junior

After only playing in 4 games as a redshirt freshman, Barlow appeared in ten this past season and his playing time wasn’t the only thing that took a spike. Barlow went from having only one total tackle to having seven solo tackles, eight assists, and two for a loss. The stats might not be off the chart but it shows improvement from year to year. Barlow has the right size for a defensive end (the position he mostly played last year) at 6’3” 250 lbs, near identical to top pro ends, Khalil Mack and Von Miller. While he may not be the next Von Miller, if Barlow can build off last season he could develop into BC’s top pass rusher.

Bryce Morais DL – Redshirt Junior

At six-foot, four, and weighing 275 pounds, Morais has a strong build if a bit on the tall side for a defensive tackle. This means he will have to work on staying low in order to get better leverage on opposing linemen but also he could be an effective pass disruptor as he was in high school at Grayson High where he swatted down nineteen passes. Morais has only played in eight games as an Eagle but had strong numbers in high school (48 tackles and 8 sacks) as a member of a Grayson defense that only allowed 8.9 points per game. Like many of the players profiled on this Morais could work his way into more playing time this year.

Isaiah Miranda DE – Redshirt Junior

A homegrown graduate of BC High, Isaiah Miranda makes the transition from linebacker to defensive end this year. This would be a smoother transition if BC ran a 3-4 or similar scheme where the end isn’t primarily in a four or three-point stance (not standing up, like a linebacker). It doesn’t help that Miranda is only 6’0” 235lbs. Even as a linebacker Miranda hasn’t seen much of the field, 3 games in 2017 and 5 in 2018 and two tackles over that two year span. Yet, Miranda was a member of a championship track team at BC High and sometimes athleticism can balance out a size disadvantage. He will have to learn how to best utilize his athleticism quickly in order to increase his playing time and productivity. This year may be tough for Miranda as he adjust to a new position but he may yet work himself into a capable defensive end.

Marcus Valdez DT – Redshirt Sophmore

The top defensive end coming out of New Jersey and the state’s sixteenth overall prospect, Valdez had good numbers for his freshman year with 13 tackles but now his path to the starting lineup is clear (as long as he can beat out the incoming freshman). Valdez is only 6’1” but at 265 lbs he has the weight to get leverage on taller tackles and work his in or around them. Top finishes in shot put and discus show that if Valdez can consistently get his hand up and under a tackles shoulder pads that he has the upper body strength to make the most of that leverage. Valdez could be primed to take a big step this coming season.

Jaleel Berry DT – Redshirt Sophomore

Berry only managed two tackles in five games this past year for the Eagles. While the Nottingham High School has a very good defensive tackle build at 6’2” 280 lbs he will need to step up his production in order to hold off the Eagle’s other promising and equally big underclassmen. Berry has the physical tools, he’ll just need to put them to work this year.

Reggie Terry Jr. DE – Redshirt Sophomore

Terry has only seen one game of action as an Eagle and is facing stiff competition for playing time against some of the defensive ends. Being 6’2” and 240 lbs also will make it hard for him to beat out some of the bigger defensive ends and more importantly some of the big tackles the ACC has to offer.

Kyiev Bennermon DT – Redshirt Freshman

There is a lot to like about Bennermon. His size at 6’3” 300 lbs. Top-ranked D-tackle prospect coming out of New York. A standout two way player and defensive tackle and tight end. His 179 career tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, and 13 sacks in high school. His 17.4 yards per reception as a tight end in high school. Bennermon has size and athleticism that make him a very promising player…But, the ACC has a lot of big athletes too. Can he learn to utilize those gifts? He’ll need to use technique to refine and maximize his physical skills in order to match up against the athletes the ACC has to offer. A very exciting prospect to keep your eye on.

Ryan Betro DT – Redshirt Freshman

Another promising redshirt freshman, Betro is another homegrown Massachusetts talent. Standing tall in both a metaphoric, a top defensive tackle and overall prospect in Massachusetts according to several rankings, including the No. 5 player in the state according to ESPN, and literally at 6’4” 295 lbs. Betro could be a fan favorite but he’ll need to perform on the field and he may have a chance to do that with no clear standout at defensive tackle this year.

Joey Luchetti DE – Redshirt Freshman

Luchetti recorded one tackle in the lone game he appeared in this past year before he was redshirted. Luchetti came to the heights as the seventh best player in Massachusetts according to ESPN but came in as a player who was most known for playing tight end in high school. At 6’6” 260 Luchetti has the build to play defensive end, though a bit on the light side, and has had a year and this offseason to learn the position. He did have 41 tackles and 8 sacks as senior at defensive end and his proficiency at tight end (45 receptions for 582 yards) showcases his athleticism making him a promising project for BC’s excellent defensive staff. It may not be this year of next year but keep an eye on Luchetti.

Izaiah Henderson DL – Freshman

Fresh out of the Garden State, Henderson was rated as the 2nd best defensive tackle and the state’s 16th best overall prospect. Henderson is another promising freshman that could challenge for major playing time this year, though he likely won’t match the 60 tackles and 9 sacks he had as a senior at Mater Dei Prep. Henderson will next to make sure to keep his 6’5” low to ground if he is to make the most of his size but if he can do that he’ll be a major disrupter in the center of the Eagles’s defense.

Ireland Burke DT – Freshman

Burke is built to be a defensive tackle, at 6’3” he’s tall but not too tall that you worry about offensive linemen being able to get under him but big enough at 310 lbs that he can either move people or just be an immovable object clogging up the middle of the line. Yet with some of the talent that is ahead of him Burke will really have to impress BC’s coaching this offseason to jump past the talent in front of him.

Spencer Bono DE – Freshman

Bono, a product of Elder high school in Cincinnati, has a 6’4” frame which will help greatly on the edge in terms of keeping tackles off of him with his long arms. Those long arms could also make him a hard person for quarterbacks to throw over. However, at 255 lbs he’s a bit on the light side and that means if he can’t keep offensive linemen at arm’s length, he may get pushed around. Perhaps not a starter but will certainly add valuable depth to BC’s defensive end group.

Mike Ciaffoni DL – Freshman

A two way player in high school, Ciaffoni will add depth to the defensive tackle unit for BC. He’s got the size at 6’3” 285 lbs to be a good interior prescience. A top 10 prospect in Massachusetts as Ciaffoni rapped up 76 tackles, 5 sacks, and even 1 interception as a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury High School. That production is nothing to scoff at and while this may not be the year, Ciaffoni could earn himself a solid chunk of playing time down the road.

Jackson Ness DE – Freshman

Another long defensive end for the BC defensive front, Ness will the opportunity to develop into a solid pass rusher but he’ll need to learn how to use his hands effectively in order to throw off offensive linemen. At 265 lbs he’s not a featherweight but he won’t be a master at the bull rush. He’ll be another body for the Eagles’s to throw at opposing offensive lines.