FOOTBALL: Side By Side
Rettig, Williams, Amidon, Divitto, And Pierre-Louis Will Make Or Break BC's Season
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013 01:09
Sink or swim: The five most important, and most talented, playmakers in Boston College’s rebuilding effort this season were all introduced on Feb. 3, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Quarterback Chase Rettig, running back Andre Williams, receiver Alex Amidon, and linebackers Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis were brought in as a part of former head coach Frank Spaziani’s first full recruiting class. They were thrust into the action immediately. Some, like Pierre-Louis, have consistently produced since their first time on the field. Others, like Amidon, weren’t on the radar until last season. All of them, though, either had redshirts burned quickly or those shirts were never even considered. Two players from the class before them, Ian White and Kasim Edebali, will be the captains in 2013, but make no mistake—the season depends on these five. Their first year ended with a bowl loss. They haven’t been close to returning to the postseason since. Their third year ended with their head coach getting fired. New coach Steve Addazio is already implementing new traditions and new systems as these players begin the end, but he’ll need them to jettison the program out of the cellar. Thirteen games, not 12. That’s the goal. So, how did they get here?
Whether it’s fair or not, Chase Rettig will inevitably be the player most easily associated with the Spaziani era.
Rettig’s first serious live action came on Apr. 24, 2010, before hardly anyone else in his class, football players or students, had even stepped foot on campus as an undergrad. He enrolled early, competing for the starting quarterback job right away. He threw for 48 yards, completing four of his 12 attempts, and was intercepted twice in the spring game. He hardly stood out in the competition for the job with incumbent starter Dave Shinskie, Mike Marscovetra, and even fellow freshman Josh Bordner.
All of that changed in the fall. Rettig impressed coaches throughout the summer and continued that play going into training camp. Then Shinksie lost his job, and Rettig was thrust into a one-week QB battle with Marscovetra, readying for Notre Dame. Rettig won the job, but lost the game and was knocked out with an ankle injury
His first touchdown pass came on a 58-yard throw to Bobby Swigert against the Irish, and the duo would develop a strong connection over the next two seasons before Swigert went down during the 2012 training camp, but one of his overlooked classmates filled the role.
Alex Amidon played in 10 games during his freshman season and then 11 in his sophomore year, and although the receiver showed potential, especially in practice, he couldn’t break through as a consistent target in games. All of that changed after Swigert’s injury.
Rettig might be the best remembered player for this era, but Amidon will be the biggest and brightest standout. His game is machine-like, and he showed it immediately as a starter in his junior year.
He caught 10 balls for 149 yards against the Hurricanes in the first game, with he and Rettig making it look like the two had been playing catch since peewee. Almost every time Amidon turned around on a comeback route, the ball would be right there. He didn’t even have to throw his hands up on routes—the ball was already there.
Amidon is fast, but he uses his speed in unique ways. Some receivers burn secondaries with quick bursts of unmatched running. That’s not Amidon’s game. In first quarters, he’ll rely on crisp routes to get open for short to medium gains, with Rettig usually delivering right on the money.
Then as the game progresses, he wears down his defenders to set up longer gains. He doesn’t run absurdly fast for a few key plays. He runs very fast for every single one, and opponents find it annoying as hell. This style goes well with his quarterback.
The quarterback and receiver have a mutual respect for each other, one that comes out as a total lack of surprise at the other’s success. Whenever Amidon has a big game, Rettig will say things such as, “He was just being Alex, he never stops,” like he did after Amidon had 193 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson. Then there’s Amidon, always insisting his numbers are nothing more than a result of a smart offensive coordinator and an extremely talented quarterback. His father, Stephen, has said he appreciates his son’s humility, but wishes that, even for a little bit, he could enjoy some of this individual success that so much work has gone into.
Both of these players are NFL prospects. There’s already a model for players like Amidon who have found their way onto pro rosters. For Rettig, his relative passing success in broken systems under five different coordinators, with no running game and shaky pass protection, has in some ways actually helped him as an intriguing guy to take a flier one. He’s built in the prototypical pro-style—less gunslinger and more game-manager.