Youth served Eagles well in turnaround season
After a rough start, the Boston College Eagles turned things around nicely with a strong second half despite a bevy of injuries and a brutal schedule. The Eagles finished 7-6 and in third place in the ACC Atlantic Division (4-4) and lost 27-20 to Iowa in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to finish tghe year. As Boston College looks forward to what should be a promising 2018 campaign, here are some accolades for this year's squad.
Offensive MVP: AJ Dillon, RB
This one is pretty straightforward. When the 6-foot, 240-pounder took a prominent role in the offense, the unit went from an undeperforming one to the type that head coach Steve Addazio needs to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Defensive MVP: Zach Allen, DE
With fellow defensive end Harold Landry out for most of the second half of the season, it was this junior from New Canaan, Connecticut, who became the dominant force on the edge. Allen's (above, right) 100 total tackles — including 15.5 for a loss — and six sacks powered the defense all year.
Best Freshman: AJ Dillon, RB
Not a lot to quibble with here. The native of New London, Connecticut, and graduate of Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, was second only to Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor in rushing yards among freshmen nationwide. He also finished with five straight 100-yard games and had two 200-yard peformances in his debut season.The Eagles will be happy to have him the next three (two?) years.
Best Play of the Season: Dillon's 75-yard touchdown run against Louisville
In a game at Louisville, the Eagles were in the midst of trying to keep pace with a Cardinals team that had quarterback Lamar Jackson working his usual magic. But Dillon provided a little of his own when he stiff-armed and body-slammed a Louisville defender on a 75-yard touchdown run.
Best Performance (Player): Dillon vs. Louisville
Not to sound like a broken record, but Dillon was immense in both this game and all season. He announced his presence on a national scale in this 45-42 Eagles win when he finished with 272 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries.
Best Game (Team): 35-3 rout over Florida State
No, the Seminoles were not what they usually are this season, but overall, when the Eagles can get a win over a program of that caliber, it counts for something significant. Boston College dominated from start to finish on both sides of the ball and enforced its will upon a talented Florida State team.
Defining Moment: Second half of the Louisville game
In addition to AJ Dillon's play against the Cardinals, the ability for quarterback Darius Wade to fill in for injured starter Anthony Brown in the latter stages helped push the Eagles over the top. A 27-yard field goal by Colton Lichtenberg with 1:49 finished what became the turning point of the season.
Biggest Surprise: (tie) Lukas Denis, FS; Kobay White, WR; Ben Petrula, C
Each player deserves mention, as Denis, a junior and first-year starter, tied for second in the nation with seven interceptions. White, a redshirt freshman, finished second on the team in both receptions (34) and yards (423) to go along with two touchdowns. Also a freshman, Petrula filled in at center and performed well after injuries to Jon Baker and Shane Leonard.
Biggest Disappointment: 17-14 loss to NC State
The Eagles had a terrific back end to the season, but it could have been better with a win over the Wolfpack at Alumni Stadium. The Eagles lost starting quarterback Anthony Brown to an injury in this game, but they defeated NC State the previous year in Raleigh and simply couldn't get the job done in Chestnut Hill.
Senior That Will Be Missed the Most Next Season: Harold Landry, DE
No, the defensive end did not have a huge campaign in 2017, as he battled injuries and faced most of the attention from opposing offensive lines. However, Landry will be one of the first edge rushers off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft, and that talent won't be easy to replace.
Player to Watch in 2018: Anthony Brown, QB
A knee injury cut short the starting quarterback's season, so the Eagles were denied the ability to see him take the next step in his progression as a passer. The running game is in good hands with AJ Dillon and Jonathan Hilliman, so if Brown can become a consistent thrower, the offense will really take off.
Biggest Offseason Question Mark: Defensive line depth
The Eagles have put together a nice recruiting class and head coach Steve Addazio has proven himself worthy in that regard. However, especially at defensive tackle, the Eagles are a little thin heading into 2018. If they can shore things up in that area, the defense will be on solid footing.
— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.