FOOTBALL: Tackling A Promise In The Classroom
Luke Kuechly Is Back In Chestnut Hill Finishing His Degree
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 22:01
Currently enrolled in five classes in CSOM, Kuechly will still have three courses remaining after this semester until he can graduate. He’ll likely take those courses online next spring to complete his degree.
For now, Kuechly is back where he feels most at home, immersed in a college culture with his closest friends.
“I think that was one of the reasons I came back,” Kuechly said. “To finish my degree was the biggest one, but also to be around my friends. I hadn’t seen them in a while. It’ll be fun to have one more semester up here in Boston and be around those guys.”
“He is so excited to be back,” Gallup said. “He’s like a kid in the candy store.”
But that culture had changed when Kuechly joined the Panthers last April. He was no longer surrounded by his peers, but instead a team full of players of all different ages. A lot of Kuechly’s teammates were married and had kids to go home to once practice was over each day. For a 21-year old that was accustomed to going back to the dorm and hanging out with his roommates after football practice during college, the new environment was quite a change.
“It’s just different,” Kuechly said. “In the NFL, you go back and you’re by yourself in your own apartment. People are married, have kids, they have different lifestyles. In college, everyone’s kind of on the same page. Guys are all your age, going through the same thing. So it does make it easier to be back here.”
For this reason, one of the best parts of being back for Kuechly has been being around people his own age, the friends that he was always around during his five semesters at BC.
“That’s what Luke is—he’s just 21 years old,” his mother said. “So I think he’s happy to be back with guys that are now all trying to work towards their same thing, trying to finish their education. I think he lives with those guys pretty much 24/7, doing everything, and he has fun with them. So I think he’s looking forward to being able to have stuff to do with somebody again.”
Though he could have rented some luxurious apartment off campus to live in this semester, Kuechly wanted no part of that. All he wanted was to live on campus with his roommates from last year in their apartment in Edmond’s. That space had filled up, though, as had the rest of the open rooms on campus, by the time Kuechly made it official that he was coming back to BC.
Kuechly is now living off-campus, but has found himself sleeping on his friends’ couch in Edmond’s on multiple occasions so far this semester, Gallup said. He’s finally back in his natural habitat, around guys like his junior-year roommates Mike Naples, Mike Javorski, and Nate Freese, even if that means sleeping overnight on a couch.
Besides his excitement in being back around his friends at BC, what the people closest to Kuechly have noticed most is that he hasn’t changed at all from the moment he left the Heights. All of the accolades he has earned over the past year could have the potential to go straight to an athlete’s head. But none of it has changed Kuechly, his mom and Gallup said.
“He deserves all the notoriety, but he hasn’t changed. That’s what I like. It’s really refreshing,” Gallup said. “He doesn’t want to be treated like an NFL player. He wants to be treated like a college student.”
“Honestly, I think he is [still the same person],” Eileen Kuechly said. “I don’t think he’s changed his habits or what he does. When he’s home, he’s the same kid that I remember.”
During the season, though, Eileen would have to do double takes at times to make sure that No. 59 on the Panthers really was her son. He was racking up tackles left and right, bringing down some of the best players in the NFL every week, some of whom were 10 or 15 years older than him.
“We still just think, ‘Wow, could that really be the Luke that we know, that goofs around when he’s just here at home?’” Eileen said. “And then to see him on an NFL field—I keep on shaking my head, ‘Okay, that really is my child.’”
No matter how many tackles he made or awards he won, however, Kuechly remained the same person when he’d walk off the field each Sunday. That’s the way his parent raised him.
“Well, I guess I would like to say that’s because of how he was brought up, I’m hoping that that’s a part of it,” Eileen Kuechly said.
Eileen Kuechly also said that Luke’s friends played a role in keeping him grounded throughout the past year, not making a big deal about him playing in the NFL.
“Hopefully a combination of all that is what’s going to keep Luke just being Luke,” Eileen Kuechly said.
Last year, Kuechly was one of the last underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft. He was struggling with the choice—to enter the draft and begin his life-long dream, or stay at BC, where he had made himself at home around his best friends. He knows he made the right choice, but that hasn’t made it any easier.
“He knows that he left a void in his life when he left here,” Gallup said.
For now, he is back, even if it is only for three months. In April he’ll be flying back to Carolina to join his teammates to officially start the 2013 season with OTAs.
But until then, he’ll be fulfilling the promises he made to his parents and Gallup a year ago.
“I’m not surprised that he’s back,” Zola said, “but he’s a shining example of what’s right about this place.”