Just like that, we hit the ground running for the 2016 football season.
The 2016 Boston College Eagles already will have a different look than their 2015 predecessors. On Monday, three Eagles - RB Marcus Outlow, RB Jordan Gowins and RB/WR Sherman Alston - announced their intention to transfer away of The Heights and out of the Boston College football program.
As they begin their next steps, it's worth taking a look and analyzing what it means for the Boston College football program. We don't yet know where anyone will land; we only know that they intend to transfer and will hear offers from other programs before choosing where they go. Should they choose FBS programs, they will sit out next year as redshirt transfers. If they go to FCS or lower divisions, they will retain all eligibility and be ready to go from the moment they set foot on campus.
For the athletes, the next step is an important one in their journey. Outlow chose to attend BC after receiving offers from a bevvy of schools ranging from his home state Connecticut to Clemson to Florida to Ohio State to Pittsburgh. Alston received only one FBS offer (BC) but had scholarship offers from FCS schools like Delaware, Bryant, New Hampshire, and Albany. Gowins drew interest from five different schools but had only two offers on the table - Boston College and Stony Brook.
At the same time, the choice to come to a particular school is not without its potential pratfalls. Outlow found himself in a backfield loaded with talent and wound up fighting for snaps alongside Tyler Rouse, Myles Willis, and Jonathan Hilliman. When Hilliman broke out during his freshman year, Outlow never really had a chance to show what he had. While a fan favorite thanks to his social media presence, he was never really going to get that chance to break out and be a feature back. In transferring, he can seek his fortunes elsewhere with the chance to touch the football more frequently. It is, after all, a game where everyone wants to play.
As for Alston, the next step is going to be interesting. Although he had the electric run against Southern California during the 2014 season, he never fully developed into a comfort zone in the Boston College offense. At 5'6" and matched up against some of the best defenses in the nation, he wasn't able to get open as a receiver and wasn't able to be shifty enough as a scat back or change of pace runner.
Ultimately, both can be viewed by the same ideas used in the professional business world. Outlow is the picture perfect case of someone who may be a great employee but couldn't get ahead because of the employees in front of him. At that case, the employee either has to seek his fortunes elsewhere in order to get ahead professionally or be resigned to being behind people on the depth chart. You can't fault someone, in that case, for leaving.
In Alston's case, I think there's a load of talent there, but I don't know if it was a poor suit for the Eagles. I think BC tried to utilize Sherm in several different areas, but nothing really worked out. Whether it was a third down running back or a fly sweep out of the slot or a punt returner or a wide receiver, I think he is one heck of a football player that just didn't work out. I think there's raw talent that will excel wherever he winds up, and, again, you can't blame a player for leaving.
As for Gowins, there's virtually nothing there for us to say worked out or didn't work out. Everyone's had these people at work; they're the people who give their notice shortly after orientation. Those people have their reasons for doing what they have to do, and you have to believe they know what they're doing in their best interests. You can never blame a player for leaving; they have their reasons.
Meanwhile, what about the "company?" The Eagles retain a long depth chart. At present, BC has a jammed backfield with multiple different types of runners. Hilliman, Myles Willis, Tyler Rouse, and Richard Wilson are all returning in 2016 after having 25 or more carries during the season. Michael Walker, a defensive back, is developing as a returner. Bobby Wolford also takes a roster spot as the team's fullback.
From a Boston College perspective, the team regains three scholarships for which to use on running backs in the future if they so choose. They'll be able to hit the recruiting trail with the ability to spread this back out among different classes, regain some balance to their development. Willis and Rouse are seniors, in effect meaning BC will have five scholarships to use for future players. That's a huge advantage for a coach; it takes spots that would be used on players who would otherwise be fighting for limited snaps and passes it along to younger players.
With the players coming back, BC retains some of its depth, but the Eagles regain flexibility. As someone who isn't in the locker room, at the practices, or in the dorms, I can't comment or speculate as to a player's reason for leaving. As such, I can't do anything but wish these players sustained, success in their future endeavors, wherever they wind up, while at the same time looking on with excitement for what happens with the Eagles moving forward.