What head coach Jeff Hafley said about BC football’s 2020 recruiting class

Hafley believes it’s imperative to maximize local talent.

Jeff Hafley is excited about what Boston College's Class of 2020 recruits have to offer.
Jeff Hafley is excited about what Boston College's Class of 2020 recruits have to offer. –Josh Reynolds/AP Photo

As Jeff Hafley spoke Wednesday about his first recruiting class as Boston College’s head coach, which featured three student-athletes, he made it clear he prioritized quality over quantity when wrapping up what’s been a thorough and extensive search for a local and national class of 2020 talent. 

“We didn’t want to just rush things and take people just to take people, and I mean that,” Hafley said. “I’m not saying that because it is a small class. I’m saying that because, if we found five guys that we felt were the right fit and fit us and were the right people, then we would have taken five people, but we didn’t. We felt good about the ones we had.”

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Quarterback Matthew Rueve (from Ohio) and defensive backs Kam Arnold (from Michigan) and Jio Holmes (from Ohio) signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, completing BC’s overall class of 15. Hafley said he feels “really good” about the three new recruits. 

Overall, the class ranks 62nd on 247 Sports. The other 12 recruits, Dwayne Allick (OL from Maryland), Justin Bellido (WR from New York), Denzel Blackwell (DB from Texas), Charlie Gordinier (TE from New Jersey), Andre Hines (RB from New York), Cam Horsley (DT from New Jersey), Taji Johnson (WR from Georgia), Hans Lillis (TE from Pennsylvania), Kevin Pyne (OL from Milford, Massachusetts), Jason Scott (DB from Maryland), Korey Smith (LB from Virginia), and Ozzy Trapilo (OL from Norwell, Massachusetts), signed in the early signing period after committing to play for former coach Steve Addazio. All 12 are still committed.

“I made it the first priority to let them know I wanted to meet their families and welcome them and really thank them for honoring their commitment and really be a part of this,” Hafley said. “It was important for me to meet their family so they could see who they were coming to work with and be part of.”

Hafley spoke about the program’s three newest recruits, Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec’s status, football in Massachusetts, and much more. Here’s what he said:

He praised the team’s two new quarterbacks.

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Rueve, a three-star quarterback, is rated as the No. 1 pro-style QB prospect in Ohio, according to 247 Sports. He’s 6’4, 182 pounds and is the cousin of former BC players Matt, Nate, and Tim Hasselbeck.

He only started his senior season, and Hafley said it’s hard to get recruited like that as a quarterback. Hafley said Rueve was behind two strong QBs at St. Xavier in Cincinnati, both of whom went on to get scholarships. He said Rueve is big, strong, athletic, and throws the ball very well, noting that his upside is really exciting. 

“Great kid, good lineage,” Hafley said. “As we got to know him, we just felt really comfortable with the person that he is, and we feel like we can develop him.”

Hafley said the Eagles wanted to make the quarterback room more competitive, which is also why they brought Jurkovec aboard. When Jurkovec entered the portal, Hafley said, it was very clear to the Eagles that they were going to pursue him “full speed.”

He said he got to know Jurkovec’s family and believes it’s a perfect fit. Hafley is excited about Jurkovec’s future at BC and half-joked to the media not to ask too many questions about Notre Dame. Hafley said he’s waiting to learn the status of Jurkovec’s waiver and will have a plan regardless of whether he can play this year or not. 

Either way, whenever he gets the chance to compete for the starting spot, Hafley knows Jurkovec will have a lot to offer. 

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“He’s the type of guy that, when he walks in the room, he looks like a quarterback and he has the presence of a quarterback,” Hafley said. 

Unsurprisingly, he landed some promising defensive backs.

Hafley has extensive experience coaching defensive backs, including in the NFL, so it’s no surprise he’s been able to attract top talent at the position. Out of the 15 recruits, four are DBs, which is the most of any position. 

He said DBs nowadays have to be able to play man, and it’s imperative for corners to be able to cover athletic wide receivers all over the field. He believes both Holmes and Arnold have the potential to do so. 

Holmes (6’2, 196) comes from Cleveland and was a standout at Cleveland Heights High. Also a three-star DB, he’s rated the No. 60 prospect in Ohio on 247 Sports. 

Hafley said he had Holmes in camp and in his office a lot at Ohio State, and he was very close to offering him at OSU. He added that Holmes was one of the first people he called as soon as he got the job at BC. 

“Obviously, I had a history with him,” Hafley said. “I knew exactly what I was getting. I’ve seen him live. I know what he’s capable of. I knew him as a person, and I called him and I said, ‘Hey, it’s funny how things work out sometimes, but I’d love for you to come and join me,’ and he did.”

Arnold (6’1, 216), meanwhile, who played at St. Mary’s Preparatory in Michigan, is a three-star defensive back and rated the No. 33 DB nationally by Rivals. He’s also the No. 2 Michigan safety and the state’s 19th overall prospect according to Rivals. 

Hafley called him smart, physical, and a big DB who can play corner and safety. 

“He’ll fit in really well with the scheme,” Hafley said. 

Hafley believes it’s imperative to maximize local talent.

In addition to discussing BC’s current class, Hafley also highlighted the importance of recruiting close to home. He said it’s crucial to get to know local high school coaches, noting that BC will be open to having them coming by to talk football.

Hafley said he hopes to maximize the local talent in the area and attract top players from Massachusetts. Much like he did when he was involved in drafting players to the NFL, he said he prioritizes getting to know players and understanding what makes them tick.

“If there’s a kid that’s eight hours away and we love his tape but there’s a kid half an hour away and we get to know him, we’ve got to take the kid that’s half an hour away, and we have to do our homework,” Hafley said. “There were plenty of guys in the NFL that were on our rosters that I’ve been a part of from the New England area that turned out to be really good players in the NFL that went to smaller schools.”

Hafley said he thinks the perception of Massachusetts athletes is on the rise, and he wants to be on the forefront of ensuring that trend continues. 

“We need to do our job, and we need to listen to these coaches and watch the film for ourselves and then get to know them, and we have to do a great job in this area,” Hafley said. “And I think our staff actually understands that.”