It’s no secret that offensive lines are integral to a team’s success. A good offensive line can make a decent quarterback or running back into a great one, and great ones into Heisman contenders. This year, the big uglies of BC hope to do just that for Anthony Brown and AJ Dillon.
It won’t be easy though. Last year, the Eagles returned all five starters on the line. This year, 80% of those dudes are gone, including first round pick Christ Lindstrom and All-ACC selection at LT Aaron Monteiro. Steve Addazio and crew won’t be putting in freshman, however, as at least three starters this year have experience and that number may increase depending on how the RG position shakes out.
Projecting the Starters
LT – Ben Petrula, Junior, 6-5 310
The lone starter returning from last year, Petrula has been a popular All-ACC pick and will probably continue to uphold Addazio and Boston College’s reputations for developing offensive line talent. He’s a preseason All-ACC first teamer and he’ll make sure Brown’s blindside is well protected.
LG – John Phillips, Grad Student, 6-6 305
Phillips wasn’t a starter last year, but he certainly has experience. He played in every game in the past two years and has 18 starts in 24 games. He’s a good pass blocker in my opinion and is certainly the veteran in this unit.
C – Alec Lindstrom, RS Sophomore, 6-4 290
A RS sophomore and younger brother of Falcons OL Chris Lindstrom, Lindstrom the Younger played pretty well in 8 games in 2018, including one start against Holy Cross. He’s been named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List for the nation’s best center, and though that might seem premature (or related to his brother), I’m confident that Alec will be a positive on this line.
RT – Tyler Vrabel, RS Freshman, 6-5 310
There’s a fair amount of chatter that it will be the son of Patriot’s legend Mike Vrabel, Tyler, who will get moved up to right tackle. Vrabel redshirted last year so there’s not much to work off of, but BC’s coaching staff was high on him out of high school and at this point Addazio and Co.’s penchant for recognizing individual talent should be trusted.
You’ll notice I haven’t listed right guard, and that’s because I quite frankly have no idea who my preferred starter is at that position. So instead here are some potential candidates, in no particular order. Addazio has shown that he’s more than willing to rotate offensive linemen throughout games, so I’d bet a couple of them get serious play time.
Anthony Palazzolo – Grad Student, 6-5 305
Palazzolo is probably the favorite, however slight, for the LG spot since he’s the oldest candidate and Addazio seems to prefer experience. He’s played primarily in a rotational role and on special teams in the past two years, but there’s really not a lot to work with.
Finn Dirstine – RS Freshman, 6-5 305
A massive, local product out of Acton, MA and Lawrence Academy, Dirstine was the pride of the 2018 recruiting class and a 4* recruit per 247 sports. He’s got the physical size that most young guys lack, but his technique in high school was lacking, some people have called him soft, and he could get pushed around when the size didn’t give him such an absolute advantage. That might have changed in the last year or so, but that decision is ultimately up to Daz. Also look for Dirstine to push Tyler Vrabel at the RT spot.
Hayden Mahoney – Grad Transfer, 6-5 305
A four-year member of The U, Mahoney has played in 24 games in the last two years and started 11. On one hand he’s got experience and pedigree. On the other, there are few offenses more disappointing in the past few years than Miami’s. How much of that is on the QB compared to the offensive line? I’m not sure I don’t watch Miami tape, but I don’t need to watch 12 games of All-22 to know that that Malik Rosier is… not good. Mahoney’s got enough to get some snaps at either guard position over the course of the season. Enough to win the job? Time will tell.
Elijah Johnson -
Johnson posted a really promising season at LG as a freshman in 2016, posting 10 starts and 12 appearances with solid pass protection. But a knee injury has kept him out for the past two years and there’s not much indicating that he could return soon.
In sum, there are is a fascinating mix of talent and questions for this year’s line. There are a lot of good players here, such that the drop-off from last years line may not even be that notable (it may even improve, considering that last year’s unit underperformed compared to expectations). It’s ultimately up to Addazio making sure the best players of that bunch are in the right positions to succeed.