|JEFF JAGODZINSKI Speed recovery|
Boston College football coach Jeff Jagodzinski and his staff treated the recruiting season like an NFL draft. They tried to fill holes, shore up weaknesses.
Need a running back? Jagodzinski found four.
How about a quarterback, as the search for Matt Ryan's replacement increases in intensity? The Eagles signed two, giving them five on the spring roster.
"When we profiled our kids going into this recruiting season, we went with the same formula," Jagodzinski said yesterday as BC announced it had signed 29 players to letters of intent. "We want smart, tough guys. It's amazing how many times you go into the school and see the same look in those guys' eyes. I tell our coaches, 'That's our type of guy. That's the guy we want.' And we got most of them."
BC's academic standards make the process challenging, but make no mistake, Jagodzinski's task is to bring the Eagles to the next plateau - which is pretty steep since they were the Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division champions last season.
"I'm not looking for five-star recruits," said Jagodzinski. "I'm looking for five-star players."
Jagodzinski has made it clear he wants to improve the Eagles' team speed, almost a necessity for teams with BCS bowl aspirations. That is why running back was an area of focus, the Eagles announcing the signings of Josh Haden, Montel Harris, Jerry Kelly, and Eric Reynolds as candidates to replace L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender, BC's primary backs last season.
Haden, a 5-foot-9 inch, 190-pound speedster from Accokeek, Md., looms as the offensive star of the class, and like three other BC recruits - quarterback Codi Boek, cornerback Donnie Fletcher, and defensive end Max Holloway - is already enrolled in school and will be able to participate in spring drills next month.
Kelly, a 6-foot, 220-pounder from Fairmont, W.Va., racked up 3,105 rushing yards in high school. Harris, a 5-9, 195-pounder, from Jacksonville, Fla., had 4,500 rushing yards and 58 TDs at Trinity Christian Academy. Harris had toyed with the idea of going to Duke, but switched to BC for a variety of reasons, including the chance to get playing time soon.
With Whitworth and Callender graduating and two other running backs from last season, Jeff Smith and A.J. Brooks, no longer on the team, fullback James McCluskey is BC's only returning running back. Recruit Isaac Johnson of Everett, who was a running back in high school, is being projected as a cornerback.
Jagodzinski says he has no qualms about playing freshmen. "If the guy fills a need and does it better than the guy who is playing, they're going to play," he said.
Jagodzinski added depth at quarterback with the signings of Boek, a 6-3, 220-pound transfer from American River Junior College in Sacramento, and Justin Tuggle, a 6-3, 205-pounder from Alpharetta, Ga. Both Boek and Tuggle have the mobility offensive coordinator Steve Logan wants at the position. Senior Chris Crane will run the team in spring drills, with the recruits providing strong competition.
Jagodzinski's preference has been for smaller, quicker players who can fill a variety of roles.
"I don't think you can get enough of those tight end/fullback type of bodies," he said. "You can't have enough of those guys."
Jagodzinski understands the uncertainties of recruiting. He laughed when someone mentioned a recruit that BC and Rutgers were both courting. Jagodzinski and linebackers coach Bill McGovern were visiting the recruit at his high school when the recruit was distracted by a noise coming from the parking lot.
It was Rutgers coach Greg Schiano arriving via helicopter. The recruit made small talk for a few seconds, then excused himself. Yesterday, he signed with Rutgers.
"If that's what it takes [to get someone], I don't know," said Jagodzinski with a laugh. "I told Billy we should have shown him the jet packs we had under our seats."
But Jagodzinski appears satisfied with the players BC signed. "We have a good, solid class," he said.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at email@example.com.