College Sports

Dennis Grosel steps in at quarterback for Boston College with the full confidence of his team

Damian Strohmeyer
Dennis Grosel came on in relief against UMass last Saturday and will start this week against Temple.


When the 2020 season ended, Boston College quarterback Dennis Grosel briefly considered wrapping up his career elsewhere but decided he would regret leaving more than he would regret staying.

“There’s no regret,” Grosel said. “This team’s great. This place is awesome. I’ve been here for so long. Seeing it develop, and seeing it grow, there’s a sense of me that really wanted to finish it out here.”

Grosel would have been at ease with his choice even if he backed up Phil Jurkovec the entire season. Now that Jurkovec could miss the remainder of the year after having surgery on his right hand, however, Grosel has a prime opportunity to anchor a dynamic offense.

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He replaced Jurkovec in the first half of BC’s 45-28 win at UMass last Saturday and finished 11 of 14 for 199 yards, with one passing and one rushing touchdown, and no interceptions. The redshirt senior, who is no stranger to stepping in for injured quarterbacks, is grateful to lead the Eagles (2-0) once again as they face Temple (1-1) on the road Saturday at noon.

“One of the reasons I came back was to be in this situation if the team needed it,” Grosel said. “It’s excitement for the team that I’m able to go out there and play. It’s a little bit of sadness for Phil, knowing how much work he put in.

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“All eyes on me now, but that’s why I came back. That’s what you want as a quarterback.”

Grosel’s plan coming out of high school in Cleveland was to walk on to the baseball team at Butler University. A last-minute preferred walk-on offer from BC shifted his fate, and he ultimately earned a football scholarship before his redshirt sophomore year.

He filled in admirably for injured quarterback Anthony Brown in 2019, starting seven games and posting a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Last season, Grosel converted a critical fourth down late in the game against Clemson and tied a school record with 520 passing yards at Virginia as Jurkovec sat out with an injury.

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His current situation would be daunting to many, but to Grosel, it’s simply the third film in the trilogy.

“Truthfully, he’s one of the best leaders on the team, even as the backup quarterback,” BC coach Jeff Hafley said. “When you have that as your backup, and he steps onto the field, guys don’t flinch.

“I know right now to the outside world we’ll be the underdog again. ‘Can they even win this many games?’ To our team, that doesn’t exist. Our expectation is the same. No matter who’s out there, we will press on.”

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Grosel’s teammates echoed those thoughts, noting that it’s tough to see Jurkovec go down but that they have total faith in Grosel.

“He’s the best backup, I think, in the country,” linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley said.

For Jurkovec, the injury comes at a brutal time. He had established himself as one of the nation’s premier passers, and another strong season this year likely would have cemented his status as an early-round pick in the NFL draft.

The silver lining is that the injury increases his odds of returning to BC for another season. With a stellar recruiting class coming in, and a formidable core still intact, the Eagles should be poised to contend again next year.

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Hafley, who was amazed that Jurkovec continued to play after landing on his hand, said he spoke with Jurkovec both before and after the surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital Monday and advised him not to beat himself up. Though that’s easier said than done, and this is crushing news for Jurkovec, Hafley believes it could benefit him in the long run.

Hafley said he joked with the doctor and asked if Jurkovec would come back with super-human gripping or throwing ability after the surgery. The answer was no, but that didn’t diminish Hafley’s positivity.

“I told him next year at this time we’ll probably look back and say, ‘Hey, man. Aren’t we glad for some reason that happened?’ ” said Hafley. “Something great’s going to come out of it. That’s how he’s got to think.”

Saturday’s game will be a homecoming for several Eagles. Graham-Mobley is from King of Prussia, Pa., and played four seasons at Temple. Defensive lineman Khris Banks spent three years there, and running back Pat Garwo is from Levittown, Pa. … Kicker Aaron Boumerhi, also a Temple transfer, is out for the season with a hip injury … Wide receiver Jaelen Gill (foot) ran Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt, and Hafley hopes to have him back “very soon.”

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