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Phil Jurkovec: A Retrospective

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On Friday morning, it was reported that Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec is set to enter the transfer portal to play out his 6th and final year of eligibility somewhere other than Chestnut Hill. Jurkovec played his first two seasons at Notre Dame before transferring to Boston College to be the Eagles’ QB1 for three seasons.

Jurkovec’s time at Boston College was a whirlwind with a lot of ups and downs. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and try to remember everything BC fans were seeing and feeling throughout Jurk’s three seasons on the Heights.

Bowling Green v Notre Dame Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Transferring to BC (2020)

Steve Addazio has just been fired. Boston College has been in a mediocre hell as they have not broken past 7 wins since 2009, and they’re looking for a change. Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond hires Ohio State co-DC Jeff Hafley to take over the reins of a program that has shown a lot of promise, but cannot take the leap from “decent” to “great.”

In the effort to take Boston College to that next level, Hafley needs a new QB to replace the departing Anthony Brown, who is transferring to Oregon. With much excitement from BC fans, Hafley snags highly-touted Notre Dame back-up QB Phil Jurkovec from the transfer portal! Jurkovec was a 4-star recruit out of high school and the 4th-ranked dual-threat QB in his recruiting class, which would make him one of the best recruits ever to take snaps under center for BC. As a recruit, he had offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, and many other respected programs.

Jurkovec wasn’t able to make his way into the starting position for Notre Dame after the Irish’s Ian Book announced he was coming back for his 5th season, so the transfer made sense. He had spent 2 years on the ND roster without seeing much playing time and wanted to start somewhere. Jurkovec also has a girlfriend, Molly Rottinghaus, who plays lacrosse at nearby Boston University, which possibly plays a part in his decision to transfer to BC.

The excitement is palpable. Anthony Brown was a decent quarterback who had led the Eagles to a ranking as high as #17 in the AP poll, but his talent was limited and his missed short passes often frustrated Eagles fans. Jurkovec is the best QB prospect BC has seen in a while after years of starting the likes of Darius Wade, Patrick Towles, Troy Flutie, and more. Hafley & Jurk could be the tandem to usher in a new era of Boston College football.

Boston College v Duke 5 runs for a first down against the Duke Blue Devils in the fourth quarter at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 19, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina. The Boston College Eagles won 26-6.(Photo by Nell Redmond-Pool/Getty Images

2020 season

Jurkovec immediately makes an impact for a team that needs new playmakers after AJ Dillon left for the NFL. And boy is that connection with Zay Flowers something special. In their first game together, Jurkovec connects with Flowers 5 times for 162 yards, including a 61-yard strike for a TD as Boston College defeats Duke, 26-6. Just 2 weeks later, BC is going head-to-head with #12 UNC and takes them to the brink in an almost-upset in just the third game of the Hafley/Jurk era.

Jurkovec continues to roll, passing for 300+ yards in 4 of his first 5 starts as an Eagle, then slowing down a bit in the second half of the season after BC blows a 28-13 halftime lead against #1 Clemson. Jurkovec also loses his first match-up against his former team Notre Dame, 45-31, and BC finishes 6-5 on the season after electing to forgo a bowl game in the shortened COVID season.

Overall, it seems like a decent first year for the new BC leadership group. Establishing a brand new coaching staff in the middle of a pandemic is no easy task, yet the Eagles still manage 6 wins in 11 games, better than the 6 wins in 13 games of 2019. Jurkovec passes for 17 TDs, rushes for another 3, and only throws 5 picks. It’s a good statistical year for him and Eagles fans think he can take another step forward with a full offseason and more time in the system.

Virginia Tech v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

2021 season

Disaster. After walloping Colgate 51-0 in the opener, Jurkovec injures his hand on the opening drive in Week 2 against UMass. He has surgery and is doubtful to return for the season. Dennis Grosel takes over as Boston College’s starting QB and has some fun moments, including a thrilling OT victory over Mizzou to make their record 4-0. But he also has some devastating moments, like the fumbled snap just 13 yards away from defeating Clemson, going 5-0, and likely entering the top-25. The Eagles go on a 4-game losing streak instead, sitting at 4-4 with the Red Bandana game against Virginia Tech up next.

Then an impossible rumor crops up on social media. Boston College football is preparing for the possibility of Phil Jurkovec suiting up and playing in the Red Bandana game? That doesn’t seem possible. There’s no way that a player “doubtful” to return this season is going to show up in Week 9, right? Nobody within the program is saying anything about this and the primary source is an off-hand tweet by a college football reporter. Tweets from Boston College’s Jason Baum seem to quell this speculation (or fuel it?) with pictures of Jurkovec’s locker without any pads in his jersey. Nonetheless, BC Athletics posts this tweet in reference to a legendary Michael Jordan moment:

Jurkovec starts the game and, though clearly limited physically, pulls out a gritty 17-3 victory over the Hokies, rushing for the game’s first TD in the process. The very next week he lights up Georgia Tech in Atlanta, throwing for 320 yards and 2 TDs, and rushing for another 71 yards and 3 TDs. He has the Boston College fanbase absolutely buzzing and thinking about winning out. They’re 6-4 with a real shot at reaching 8 wins for the first time in 12 years.

From there, Jurkovec continues to be physically limited and clearly has been rushed back from injury. His throws lack velocity and control, a clear sign that his injured hand continues to bother him. BC loses its final 2 games and limps to a 2-2 record to finish the season with Jurkovec, ending at 6-6 and missing their bowl game due to an outbreak of COVID.

Surely next year, when healthy, he’ll be better and everything will come together. But this season will go down as a huge missed opportunity to win 8 games and take the “next step” as a football program.

Boston College v Wake Forest Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

2022 season

Phil Jurkovec enters the 2022 season with 40/1 Heisman odds and BC fans are ready for it all to come together. Zay Flowers makes a return for his senior season, Pat Garwo is coming off of a 1,000+ yard season, and the defense isn’t losing key pieces. But as quickly as the hype builds up, it crumbles down.

The main issue leading into the season is huge turnover on the offensive line. 4/5 starters from 2021 have departed, then the season-ending injury to NFL Draft prospect Christian Mahogany makes things even worse. This leads to a putrid running attack and very poor pocket protection. Boston College, often touted as OL-U by fans, has one of the worst offensive lines in the nation. The Eagles lose to Rutgers in the opener followed by another loss to a very bad Virginia Tech team. It sets the tone for what ends up being not only a disappointing season, but a total dumpster fire.

The OL isn’t the only thing to blame, though. Jurkovec himself does not look like the player he once was. His bad INT on the first play against VT sort of sums up what BC got from him in 2022: accuracy issues and poor decision-making. The Boston College offense with Jurk at the helm scores 30+ points only once against FBS competition in seven games. He throws almost as many INTs in those games (8) as he does TDs (9). Rushing was one of his biggest strengths in past seasons, but that aspect of his game is severely limited due to the play of the OL. Everything about his performance in 2022 is disappointing.

His tenure at BC ends unceremoniously in the 3rd quarter of Week 8 against UConn. Jurkovec goes down with an injury and Emmett Morehead comes in at QB, replacing him for what ends up being the remainder of Jurk’s Boston College career. The Eagles go on to lose to UConn, their first ever loss to the Huskies in program history, largely because of the offense’s inability to score. BC ends the day with 3 points.

Jurk can’t get himself back into action for the remainder of the season due to the injuries he is battling. He does find time to make an Instagram post about Notre Dame, though, and shows his appreciation for Boston College as well. Less than a week after BC’s season ends, he is in the transfer portal.

Boston College v Wake Forest Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

So, what do we think after it’s all over?

Jurkovec’s journey at Boston College seems like a huge “what if?”. He had the physical tools to be a great quarterback and it looked like he was on his way to do that until he was injured against UMass in the beginning of 2021. So many times in that season when Grosel (or Morehead) was playing poorly, I remember thinking to myself “imagine how good this team would be if Jurk was healthy!” That team was fairly formidable and definitely could’ve reached 8+ wins (and could have upset Clemson) with competent QB play. But 2022 Jurkovec seemed like a totally different player, even when considering the OL issues, and it contributed to their worst record since 2015.

Now some time will pass, he will play somewhere else next season (Pitt?), and BC fans will move on to Emmett Morehead, Peter Delaportas, or whoever starts at QB next season. And Jurkovec will be relegated to a player that a lot of Boston College fans will talk about for years to come, the good and the bad, but one who never really saw success despite being set-up to be a real program-changer.

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