The Eagles have big shoes to fill in the secondary this season. Gone are the likes of All-American Hamp Cheevers, Lukas Denis, and Will Harris, all now in the NFL, and not to mention, Taj Amir-Torres. Last year’s group ranked fifth in the nation in interceptions after picking off 18 passes, a feat they accomplished in 2017 as well. Only Iowa had more interceptions than Boston College in the past two seasons in the FBS. They ended the season on shakier ground, but still finished with the 49th ranked passing defense per S&P+. Not only that, but three-year defensive backs coach, Anthony Campanile, is now at Michigan. Hey, Jim. I know there’s a little BC-Ohio State connection, but stealing our coaches isn’t going to help you beat them. In comes Eric Lewis, who does have more than a decade of collegiate and NFL coaching experience, having been with Colorado State and Tennessee most recently.
Luckily, a lot of this year’s group have played and learned behind all of those big time playmakers. It’s a young group with very little secondary experience, but as in these past few years, let’s see if they can develop and a star (or multiple stars) can be born.
Brandon Sebastian - R-Soph
Brandon Sebastian is one of the most experienced player left in the secondary. He appeared in 12 games and started seven at corner as a redshirt freshman. His season was up and down for sure, but as a young player you can expect him to grow. He did have some promising moments, including a game changing interception against Virginia Tech. He looks to build on a promising campaign posting 49 tackles, one sack, and two pass breakups, and two interceptions. The 6’1 190 pound corner will look to become the next big defensive back the Eagles have placed in the NFL. More importantly, he and I will both look to forget the end of the Florida State game last season.
Tate Haynes - R-Soph
Haynes appeared in four games at defensive back last season. He actually came to the team as a quarterback, but made the switch during bowl season two seasons ago. Son of NFL Hall of Fame DB Mike Haynes, Tate may very well be one of the best athletes in the secondary. He had an excellent spring, and had a takeaway off receiver Kobay White in the spring game. Measuring in at 6’1 and 190 pounds as well, he will likely be starting opposite Brandon Sebastian.
Medhi El Attrach - Grad
Medhi is the most seasoned player left in the defensive backfield. He notched his first interception last season against Holy Cross, and forced a fumble against NC State. While mostly contributing on special teams the past three seasons, he did see some time at strong safety in 2018. He’ll provide solid veteran leadership to this young group.
Mike Palmer - R-Jr
Palmer played in 10 games at safety last season, posting 23 tackles and two pass breakups. His best outing might have came against NC State, when he recorded a career-high 10 tackles and blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown. Palmer also nabbed an interception in the spring game off the departed Matt McDonald. The 6’1 200 pound free safety will have every opportunity to stand out in this secondary.
Nolan Borgersen - Grad
After spending most of his previous two seasons on special teams, Borgersen played in 11 games last season and saw time at defensive back. Oddly enough, he too, blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown last season against Louisville. Love these guys making plays on special teams getting a chance. With his experience, Borgersen will likely be vying for playing time. He recorded a takeaway and returned it for a touchdown in the spring game as well. At 6’2 205, he will look to make an impact at safety.
Jahmin Muse - R-So
Jahmin Muse played in four games last season, all at safety. His first game came against UMass, and he recorded one tackle. Muse was a highly rated athlete prospect out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, having played wide receiver, defensive back, and linebacker. The 6’2 220 pound has put on some decent weight, and could make a name for himself as a hard-hitting safety.
Jason Maitre - R-Fr
Before redshirting last season, Maitre actually appeared in two games. He had two tackles, one pass breakup, and a punt return. Coming out of nearby Everett High School, Maitre was the top ranked athlete and top-10 overall recruit in the state. His athleticism was even noticed nationally, rated the No. 70 athlete by ESPN Recruiting. Coming in at 5’10 185, Coach Addazio mentioned him as a name to watch in the kick return game a few months back.
Elijah Jones - R-Fr
Similar to Maitre, Elijah Jones had the chance to play in four games last season prior to redshirting. He recorded six tackles and four pass breakups in that short time, but will look to see much more of the field this time around. Jones was the top ranked cornerback in the New York, and a top-ten overall prospect in the state as well. At 6’3 190, the athleticism he and Maitre possess is definitely something to keep an eye out for. Both of these guys should get more playing time this season with the lack of depth on the roster, and an injury could vault them into a bigger role.
Aaron Gethers - R-Fr
Gethers was the No. 2 corner prospect out of Bishop McDevitt in Pennsylvania, and a top-100 national corner prospect. He was also high school teammates with Kobay White. At 5’10 195, Gethers has excellent 4.48 speed, and will surely be looking to get on the field this season.
Tyler Days - R-Fr
Days is a 6’0 200 pound defensive back out of Syracuse. He had a sound 4.5 40 time coming out of high school.
Ezechiel Tieide - R-Fr
Our lone Canadian! Tieide is a 6’2 220 pound player from Quebec. He came in as an athlete and had an offer from UMass as well.
Here’s the crop of true freshman that could easily see action in at least a few games this season. Remember, these guys can play up to four games before redshirting. Each of these guys are three-star recruits coming out of high school. Bryce Sebastian is the younger brother of Brandon Sebastian and the only nationally ranked prospect in the group. Josh DeBerry is another corner prospect out of Michigan. Steve Lubischer and Connor Grieco are both safety prospects out of New Jersey, and Jalen Williams is a 6’0 190 pound defensive back out of Maryland.
There’s a lot of youth on this side of the ball, and I’m sure you will hear plenty of mention of that fact in the Addazio pressers. Any one of these young guys could step up this season and put their names alongside the NFL caliber defensive backs that have come through the Heights these past few seasons.