After settling the quarterback discussion by selecting Jeff Smith to play against Clemson, Boston College head coach Steve Addazio now faces uncertainty in the backfield for the second time this season. Without his top two signal callers, he is left to decide whether Troy Flutie is capable of playing full time or if unheralded walk-on prep school product John Fadule can step into the role left vacant by Smith's assumed absence.
For the most part, we know the capabilities and scouting reports of Boston College's three main quarterbacks - Darius Wade, Smith, and Flutie. We haven't heard Smith ruled out completely this weekend, but the team's moves, which included working Fadule into a rotation this week and transitioning quarterback-turned-tight end Brendan Nosovitch to scout team prep QB, signal a likelihood that BC's QB2 can be assumed out for Saturday.
We know that Troy Flutie, although recruited to play QB, has deficiencies in his game. As a redshirt freshman, he has a decent arm with the capability to go downfield. But he lacks the speed to run the option running game, and Smith seemingly caught up to him developmentally by improving his passing acumen against Louisville. Flutie, by the time Smith won the job, typified what ESPN said about him, which is that he needed a "red shirt plus time" to develop his skills.
If Smith can't play, BC still needs to carry two active quarterbacks on the roster. Enter Fadule. Fadule is a walk-on freshman product of Wellesley High School via Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, having spent a year of postgraduate work at the prep school before matriculating and walking onto the Boston College football team this year.
Fadule threw for 2,000 yards and led Choate to a 10-0 record. Prior to that, he accounted for 3,000 all-purpose yards at Wellesley, helping the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 1999. He began his high school career at Milton Academy before transferring back to Wellesley High School.
It was during that senior year of high school when Fadule and Flutie actually went head-to-head against one another. On September 27th of that year, Wellesley traveled to Natick for a Bay State League matchup with the Redhawks. Although Wellesley led 7-0 after the first quarter, Natick ripped off 21 second quarter points en route to a 35-21 victory.
According to scouting reports, Fadule is not considered a highly-touted passing quarterback. Although he did enjoy some success throwing the ball, it needs to be noted that much of his competition either came against New England prep school athletes or high school athletes in Massachusetts - the majority of which is not Division I-A, P5 level talent. As a quarterback, he projects best to the FCS level, a guy who would have success running a dual-threat offense at that level.
ESPN's recruiting profile calls him a "little reckless at times" running the football but commented on his ability to "protect the ball well displaying awareness to change hands when running." Most of projections had him either as a fullback or as a Josh Bordner-type H-back, the type of kid who would put on more size unless his growth stopped at 6'1". That would give him the opportunity to set up as a Wildcat QB in trick play scenarios. ESPN also says he projects well to an inside linebacker position.
If there's one thing about Fadule, it's that he does have substantial size. He resembles a right-handed, poor man's Tim Tebow in his Hudl highlights. When he passes, he has all the time in the world to deliver a strike ball. So if you give him time, he's able to throw the ball 20 to 30 yards downfield, provided the receiver can get separation. Fadule showed an ability to throw down the middle, which goes back to our criticisms of vertical passing routes instead of slants and crossing patterns. Again, though, you have to consider the opponents and compare them to the defenses of the ACC.
As a freshman who hasn't played before, Fadule needs to adjust, like all three quarterbacks before him, to the speed of the college game. With an offensive line that did not play particularly well against Louisville and the likelihood that Virginia Tech is going to stack the box, both Fadule and Flutie need to execute play fakes and short passes on a slant to wide receivers. The tight ends, who normally aren't used in passing situations because BC lacks a true receiver at the position, need to be able to stay in and block as opposed to get out into the pattern. For what it's worth, the scouting report said Fadule needed to get better in this regard, so this would be a good chance to see how he's improved.
That size can help him at this level if he's willing to go out there, take a few hits and lay a few more. Even though he's not quick or fast, he's tough, and if he's willing to take a few hits, he'll be able to power through them with his size. A guy who projects to an H-back or linebacker is a guy who is going to be able to shrug off tackles with leg power, and his body will serve him well on draws or the occasional scramble. His best bet is to get the play to break down on the fly, let all hell break loose, and operate in chaos. After all, he's been practicing different offenses every week as the scout/prep team QB against the first team BC defense.
I like John Fadule. I remember him at Wellesley High, and this would be a great victory for another Massachusetts public high school program if he can succeed. It would be a great underdog story for the walk-on to take on an elite defense and punch them in the mouth. It would be amazing for him to prove scouting reports wrong. Can he translate to success? We don't know, and that's what makes him so enticing for fans and such a lightning rod for discussion with Jeff Smith presumably sidelined for Saturday.