Watching Cincinnati’s offense gash Boston College’s defense in the Birmingham Bowl earlier this month was painful for star Eagles linebacker Max Richardson.
He was sidelined due to a hamstring injury, and seeing the Eagles allow 38 points in a lopsided loss didn’t sit right. Two weeks later, Richardson announced he had decided to return to BC for a fifth and final year.
“I didn’t want to leave Boston College in that fashion,” Richardson said Thursday. “It’s never easy watching from the sidelines. If you’re a competitive player, you want to play all the time. That was something that hurt me a little bit.”
Richardson wasn’t alone in that decision. Though standout running back AJ Dillon decided to declare for the NFL Draft, and one-time starting quarterback Anthony Brown entered the transfer portal, many Eagles have elected to play for new head coach Jeff Hafley.
Notre Dame transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec, redshirt senior wide receiver Kobay White, redshirt junior tight end Hunter Long, and the redshirt senior Richardson all figure to play a major role going forward.
They addressed members of the media Thursday. Here’s what they had to say.
Phil Jurkovec is eager for the opportunity.
Phil Jurkovec elected not to comment much on his time at Notre Dame, and he praised Fighting Irish starting QB Ian Book, but he also made it clear he’s hungry to prove himself on a new stage.
“I don’t think I got too much of an opportunity to showcase what I can do,” Jurkovec said.
He wasn’t initially recruited by Boston College, yet when he decided he wanted to transfer, BC seemed like a logical choice. Jurkovec said Notre Dame and BC have similar feels in terms of the student body and football.
Initially, he said it was “scary” throwing his name in and not knowing what would arise. Immediately, though, Hafley and new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. reached out, and his next move suddenly became clear.
— Jeff Hafley (@CoachJeffHafley) January 11, 2020
Jurkovec said everyone has been welcoming, and he senses that people at BC are real and honest. It’s still uncertain whether he’ll be able to play this season, but whether it’s this year or next, he knows he’ll have to earn the starting spot.
He made it clear he doesn’t consider himself a finished product, and he said he values coaches who can help him improve his craft. Jurkovec said he can fit into different offenses, including the spread and pro style, and he expects to see a mixture at BC.
Jurkovec, much like many players at Boston College and the team as a whole, embraces the idea of surprising people.
“The guys are hungry, and they want more,” Jurkovec said, “so that’s very exciting.”
Kobay White followed his heart.
When Kobay White entered the transfer portal, he talked to his family about his next course of action. They all agreed it would be difficult for him to leave BC because of the relationships he’s built on campus.
“I had a bunch of people telling me to follow your heart,” White said. “My heart was screaming BC. I didn’t think there was any way I could leave.”
2019 has definitely taught me don’t let anyone dictate your happiness?
— Kobay White (@KobayWhite) December 31, 2019
White echoed Richardson’s sentiments about having “unfinished business” left at BC. While the Eagles have made it to a bowl game each of the last four years, these fifth-year players haven’t won more than seven games, and they want to break that barrier.
He said the recruiting process was a lot less exciting this time around than it was in high school, and he even half-jokingly called it “annoying.” The main reason he felt that way was because his mind was largely already made up.
White said the decision to bring back coach Rich Gunnell, whom White has known since he was a sophomore in high school, was a major boon. Though Gunnell will coach the running backs instead of the wide receivers, White is still thrilled to see a familiar face on the staff.
That being said, he’s excited to play for Hafley and the rest of the newcomers, and he’s looking forward to graduating and playing one final season with BC.
“I’m not going to second-guess it,” White said. “I’m just going to run with it.”
Hunter Long envisions more balance in BC’s offense.
Hunter Long believes this is a “redemption year” for the Eagles, and he decided he wanted to be part of what he expects to be an upward ascension.
Long, who led BC in receiving yards and yards per catch last season, ever-so-briefly contemplated leaving, but he chose to stay put and embrace a leadership role in the tight ends group.
With Jake Burt, Korab Idrizi, and Chris Garrison gone, Long will have a chance to showcase his skills even more this season. He said he’s had some brief conversations with Cignetti, and he expects the offense to be “much more balanced” this year.
— Hunter Long (@HunterLong80) January 8, 2020
Long said Dillon helped immensely last year and was a huge asset, and he expects the passing game to adjust and figure out a way to gain yards with Dillon gone.
“We haven’t started installing much, but I’m excited for the direction it seems like our offense is headed,” Long said.
Max Richardson believes the Eagles have “unfinished business” to tend to.
As Richardson puts it, he’s “been around the block.” He knows what it takes to win games, and he wants to inspire everyone around him to work together to take the next step as a program.
He’s eager to anchor the linebacking core alongside John Lamot and Isaiah McDuffie, and he expects Hafley’s defensive background to pay dividends in helping the unit as a whole.
What an incredible opportunity to play the game. I Love this team. 2020 will be a year to remember at Boston College. ♻️‼️ https://t.co/sCadP9a1YO
— Max Richardson III (@amillian_14) January 16, 2020
Richardson toyed with the idea of not coming back, but he simply felt like there was more to accomplish and more to prove.
“What Coach Hafley has told us is that all the guys who are getting in will be a part of something great,” Richardson said. “Those who are not in, we hope that you’re on the other side of the schedule so that we can show you what we’re made of.”