Add Al Louis-Jean to the list of Eagles heading to rookie mini camps.
The undrafted free agent, who left Boston College for the NFL Draft despite two years of eligibility remaining on his collegiate career, accepted an invitation to try out for the Chicago Bears when their camp commences later this week.
A Brockton, MA native, ALJ originally committed to Miami but flipped his commitment to stay closer to home with Boston College. Loaded with raw talent, he was a four-star commit who developed a great relationship with former Hurricane head coach Randy Shannon. Describing Shannon as a "father figure," he graduated high school in December with the intention of enrolling in Coral Gables early. But Shannon was fired by Miami that year, and ALJ withdrew as a result. After a short courtship that included schools like LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, and Oregon, he chose to come to BC after talking about how the coaching staff first started recruiting him as a sophomore.
Arriving on campus, he came with the reputation of being the shut down corner BC never really had. As a true freshman, he played in nine games and quickly became one of the starters in the Eagle defensive backfield. He averaged just over a tackle per game, registering 15, 11 of which were solo, with one pick. After missing his sophomore season due to injury, he redshirted and arrived back on campus this past year projecting to one of the top corners on the roster.
But for some odd reason he fell off the map, starting the season on the inactive list after being suspended for the first game for a violation of team rules. He never really recovered, missing four of the team's first five games and finishing the year out of the starting lineup behind Manny Asprilla and Bryce Jones. After not playing in the bowl game against Arizona, ALJ chose to leave the program and was named one of the underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft.
What was curious about his decision is that he chose not to transfer but instead go to the NFL Draft. Despite being speedy enough to register a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, it was almost a foregone conclusion he wouldn't be drafted. He hadn't developed remotely close to enough to be an impact coverage corner, and the film on him from college revealed a guy who had the tools but never really developed.
I would've liked to have seen what ALJ could've done under four years in one system, but that simply didn't happen. This is a case where a guy saw too many systems and his development completely stunted. He loved Miami's system, but Randy Shannon got fired. He came to BC because of his familiarity with the coaching staff, and then they got fired. Quite simply, there are some guys who draw terrible luck in college, and ALJ was one of them. So by my estimates, he took his ball and went off for the NFL.
On top of it all, he fell victim to poor developmental and schematic coaching. Under Frank Spaziani, Louis-Jean played in one of the worst passing defenses in the FBS. With a scouting report of a guy who could be a lockdown corner or converted safety, BC's pass defense under Spaz left a cushion for a tackle, something ALJ couldn't do. He needed to be up on the receiver's grill, and he needed to be developed with the intangibles to get into that system. Despite being completely athletic, Spaz did nothing to develop him and instead put him in a system designed for his failure. By the time Don Brown rolled around on defense, the train here had completely derailed.
I wish Al nothing but luck at the pro level, and I hope he finds a home at some level professionally. But he's a guy who had immense talent and projected very well back in high school, then got dealt the worst possible cards to become a lockdown corner.