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Thrill of Chase

Improving Eagles QB Rettig wants bowl win to cap freshman season

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / December 25, 2010

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It was so different a year ago. “At this time last year, I was watching the California high school championship [game] and getting ready to play in the Under Armour All-Star Game in Florida,’’ said Chase Rettig with a smile and a shake of his head.

Rettig’s freshman season at Boston College started quietly, but has become more noteworthy each week since taking over as the No. 1 quarterback and helping guide the Eagles to their 12th straight bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco Jan. 9.

“I definitely wanted the opportunity I’ve gotten this year,’’ said Rettig. “That was all part of my ambition in coming to Boston College. I just felt it was a great opportunity a year ago. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.’’

Rettig had flirted with Tennessee and UCLA, but he decided on BC and enrolled in January, which gave him seven months to get oriented to college without the pressure on the football field. He got a taste during spring drills, but on the depth chart, Rettig was behind a pair of sophomores with experience, incumbent starter Dave Shinskie and Mike Marscovetra.

Rettig seemed destined to spend the fall as a redshirt, along with fellow freshman quarterback Josh Bordner, who also enrolled in January. But in coach Frank Spaziani’s mind, Rettig could emerge as more than a spectator. “No one has any guarantees,’’ said Spaziani as he watched Shinskie and Marscovetra battle for the starting job.

The Eagles began their season with routine, nonconference wins over Weber State and Kent State, games in which there were no obvious deficiencies at quarterback. Then, in a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech, the offense was exposed.

A week later against Notre Dame, Spaziani decided Rettig would make his debut. Rettig seemed more than ready when he connected on a 58-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Bobby Swigert in the first half. But Rettig also twisted his ankle in what turned into a 31-13 loss.

After a one-game absence, Rettig was back under center, and the job was his to lose. Offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill liked Rettig’s “swagger’’ and he gave the quarterback more responsibilities every game.

“It felt more and more like a leadership role each week,’’ said Rettig.

A 16-10 win over Clemson Oct. 30 started the Eagles on an upward climb, and they have not lost since, winning five straight.

“Ever since the Notre Dame game I just felt things growing and growing,’’ said Rettig. “After that game the coaches were not expecting me to be a freshman anymore. Each week I’ve grown more confident, with the guys picking me up. When the coaches made the decision [to start him] everyone else went with it and I appreciated it.’’

Rettig showed flashes of what his future might hold at BC. His numbers — 6 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 1,117 yards — don’t draw much attention. But his presence is getting noticed more each week.

“I don’t feel like a freshman anymore,’’ said Rettig. “It’s good to be confident, to want success, and to show it on the field. You don’t want to take that too far, but if you play with swagger, with confidence, to get the guys motivated, I feel that helps.’’

Tranquill, who has not decided on whether he will be back for a third year, said Rettig is making progress.

“We’re giving him more and more each game,’’ said Tranquill. “I suspect we will have a little more against Nevada.’’

Rettig said he has just started studying the Wolf Pack on tape. “They have a good team and score a lot of points,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a back-and-forth game.’’

Spoken like a QB who has a plan and no longer considers himself a freshman.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Who:
BC vs. Nevada
When: Jan. 9, 9 p.m.
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco
TV, radio: ESPN, WEEI (850)