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BC program well-represented

Eagles score six on Super rosters

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / February 6, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS - Boston College football alumni certainly had to be beaming after last night’s Super Bowl.

BC was the most represented college football program at Super Bowl XLVI, with six former Eagles on the combined rosters.

The Patriots have defensive tackle Ron Brace (Class of 2008) and center Dan Koppen (’02) on their roster, though Koppen is on injured reserve. The Giants counter with guard Chris Snee (’04), linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (’05), cornerback Will Blackmon, (’06), and linebacker Mark Herzlich (’10). Brace and Herzlich were inactive last night.

“It’s a source of real pride and I’ve spoken about that with the other BC players that we have on our team,’’ said John Mara, the Giants president and chief executive officer, who graduated from BC in 1976. “I pointed that out to Justin Tuck, who is a Notre Dame guy, that BC is the most-represented school in this game. So it is a source of real pride.’’

Ties to The Heights extend to the sidelines and the front office, where Chris Mara, the Giants vice president of player evaluation, graduated from BC in 1979, and Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft serves as a trustee associate.

On the Giants’ sideline, coach Tom Coughlin was a BC assistant under Jack Bicknell before becoming head coach for three seasons (1991-93); running backs coach Jerald Ingram served in a similar capacity under Coughlin at BC; and Jack Bicknell Jr., a 1985 grad who was Doug Flutie’s center, was an associate head coach and offensive line coach for two seasons (2007-08).

“It’s a quality school and they don’t always get the cream of the crop, recruit-wise, but they’ve produced a lot of NFL players, particularly offensive linemen, and that’s something to be proud of,’’ Mara said. “They produce quality kids, because they take quality kids. They don’t take a lot of questionable characters.’’

That was largely due to the vetting process former coaches Coughlin and Tom O’Brien, now at North Carolina State, did in evaluating recruits.

“With Tom O’Brien it was all about building mental and physical toughness,’’ said Brian Flores, a BC linebacker (2000-03) who graduated in 2004 and is now in his fourth season as a defensive assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff.

“Being at BC, and seeing how we do it at this level, if you don’t have mental and physical toughness, you’re not going to make it; you’re not going to last long,’’ said Flores. “At BC, whether it’s in season or out of season, we talked a lot about being able to tough things out and just improve every day,’’ Flores said. “That was kind of our deal and it just kind of sprinkled over and what we do here with [the Patriots], and so it was a seamless transition for me. You put in the work, you reap the benefits, and it’s what I learned at BC and it’s carried over to my time here with the Patriots.’’

Although BC is noted for producing NFL-caliber offensive linemen such as Snee, Koppen, Tom Nalen, Pete Kendall, Ron Stone, Marc Colombo, Gosder Cherilus, and Anthony Castonzo, the Eagles have had their fair share of defensive players go on to the NFL.

“Yes, we have,’’ said Kiwanuka, a first-round pick (32d overall) of the Giants in 2006. “I was on those teams. You’re talking about Ron Brace, B.J. Raji, [Packers], Tim Bulman [Texans] - you could go down the list - Antonio Garay [Chargers], Jo-Lonn Dunbar [Saints]. “I mean, they’re establishing a great tradition,’’ Kiwanuka said. “The Antonio Garays, the guys who were a little bit older than me and came there when the program was really starting to be rebuilt, they began a legacy that I’m proud to say that I’m a part of now.’’

Last night, they were all part of a select Super Bowl fraternity.

“BC is a great school and it’s a great program, but it’s not the perennial powerhouse that people think of,’’ Kiwanuka said. “So having a lot of guys make it to this level, I mean, [Patriots scout] DuJuan Daniels is over there, Dan Koppen is over there, Brian Flores is over there.

“There’s a reason that BC recruits the kind of players that they do, and why they become successful,’’ Kiwanuka said. “It’s because we work hard and we continue to push regardless what’s in front of us, so it’s just fun to be a part of it.’’

BC’s sacred motto - “Ever to Excel’’ – seemed to resonate last night.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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