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Boston College Football: 2021 Running Backs Preview

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Until the Levy runs dry

Texas State Bobcats vs. Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

We’ll now be 2 seasons removed from the reign of AJ “The Sauce” Dillon and it looks like his legacy of power-running may be short-lived. Let’s take a look at Boston College’s 2021 running back group and how they stack up compared to years past.

Last season

The 2020 season for running backs was a definite team effort with multiple players taking snaps at times, but the leader was clearly David Bailey. Bailey led the team in rushing yards (503), rushing attempts (127), yards per carry (4.0), and rushing TDs (7). That performance was made in conjunction with Travis Levy, who also had a decent season with 321 rushing yards in 99 attempts, though he didn’t score any touchdowns. Patrick Garwo III was a sophomore last year who also saw some time with 122 rushing yards in 22 attempts, also with no touchdowns.

Bailey was the clear lead back who was also used heavily in short yardage and goal-line situations, hence the TD disparity. He was a real bruiser for the Eagles, much in the mold of AJ Dillon’s running style, which is why it makes sense that he transferred to Steve Addazio’s Colorado State this offseason. As a Ram, Bailey will be able to put up tons of rushing attempts as he plows through defensive lines all season in Daz’s pounding offensive scheme.

Returning production

RS Senior Travis Levy: Levy is the clear frontrunner this year to be the lead RB in BC’s offense. He’s a 5th-year player with plenty of experience and an ability to catch the ball as Coach Hafley continues to air-out the Eagle offense. In addition to his good rushing numbers, Levy clearly led BC’s RBs in the air with 35 receptions for 285 yards last season. He was the 3rd-highest targeted player on the team in the passing game, only below Hunter Long and Zay Flowers. Expect Levy to continue in this role and improve upon last year’s accomplishments in an offense that could be one of the best in the ACC. Levy’s pass-catching abilities will be integral to the success of QB Phil Jurkovec, and past performance suggests it could be a breakout year for Travis.

Junior Patrick Garwo III: Garwo will almost definitely factor in as well, but he’s a bit undersized at 5’9” and his impact could be limited. In his limited snaps last season, he was able to show off a decent skillset and his improvement will be something to watch this year.

The problem

The biggest question for this position group is: Who will be the goal-line and short-yardage back? Levy isn’t much of a bruiser at 198lbs and has been better suited where he can use his speed and agility, including returning kicks. Garwo has that much thicker build you’d look for in a goal-line back, but he’s a bit undersized at 5’9” as was mentioned earlier and may struggle in the role David Bailey and AJ Dillon were so successful at. Don’t count him out for that role, but I wouldn’t bet on it for him. Looking at the rest of the position group, it’s unclear who else could do it...

RS Junior Peter Stehr: Stehr was an unheralded recruit coming out of high school, but he’s made a limited impact at BC and could be poised for a bigger role. He played in all 11 games last season on special teams, recording 5 kick returns for 69 total yards as well as 2 total tackles. Stehr has absolutely been serving his dues for the team and could get some snaps at RB as a result now that Bailey has transferred.

RS Junior Javian Dayne: Dayne was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school, but has not shown it at all so far. In 2018 you could hardly blame him, as he sat behind AJ Dillon, David Bailey, Travis Levy and others and only recorded 19 rushing yards on 5 attempts. He redshirted 2019 due to an injury, and then did not record any stats this past year. At 5’11” and 218 lbs., he has the build to serve in this needed role, but his lack of utilization last season suggests he may not be ready.

RS Freshman Andre Hines: Hines was also a 3-star recruit and, after redshirting last season, is ready to make his first impact on gameday in a BC uniform. He’s a big guy at 6’2” and could be the missing ingredient this team will need in the trenches. There isn’t any past performance to judge him by yet, but keep your eye on Hines to be a candidate for a rookie contributor.

Who do you think will get the most goal-line carries for BC this season?