In August, there was Darius Wade. The sophomore quarterback was supposed to be a key part of the Boston College football team’s season. Then, one bone-crunching play on a Friday night in mid-September left him with a broken left ankle and sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Next, there was the combination of Jeff Smith and Troy Flutie. Both quarterbacks received opportunities to clinch the starting position. Then Smith went down with a concussion in the loss against Louisville. It seemed Flutie was the answer to the quarterback question—at least, until Smith was cleared to play again.
But against Virginia Tech, there was another answer. His name is John Fadule, and he’s a freshman walk-on.
Flutie played two drives against Virginia Tech. In those two drives, he went 0-1 throwing and was sacked. For BC’s third offensive drive, Flutie stayed on the sidelines. Instead, an unfamiliar figure wearing number 14 trotted out with the offense. On his first play of the game—and of his season, and of his career—Fadule ran for 25 yards.
He proved to be a legitimate threat for the rest of the game. At first, head coach Steve Addazio focused on exploiting Fadule’s rushing threat. At halftime, Fadule had one completion for 33 yards on just four attempts. By contrast, he had rushed seven times for 51 yards. The score at halftime was 20-0, Virginia Tech.
In the second half, Addazio, while still calling for plenty of rushes, allowed Fadule to throw the ball more. He had seven second-half completions for 110 yards. In the fourth quarter, Fadule threw three key passes to Elijah Robinson, Tyler Rouse, and Charlie Callinan to move the Eagles downfield. That drive ended a few plays later with a three-yard rushing touchdown from Richard Wilson.
Although the Eagles lost to the Hokies 26-10, Fadule’s performance was a bright spot in the game. Just a year ago he was a senior in high school who didn’t receive any offers to play college football. Just a few months ago, he was fighting to make the team as a freshman walk-on. Just two weeks ago he was still the scout team quarterback, playing against BC’s tough defense. Saturday, he went up against an ACC foe and made big plays on the ground and in the air. To the fans, it may seem like this surprisingly good performance came out of nowhere. To his coach and teammates, however, it was no surprise.
“I saw what you saw,” Addazio said. “That’s why we took him off the scout team two weeks ago. I saw him making plays against our defense.” He also revealed that Fadule got reps “little by little” even before Smith’s injury against Louisville.
“[Today] he had toughness, he had confidence, he ran people over, he threw the ball, he ran the ball, he said. “It was nice to see.”
Fadule’s teammates weren’t shocked by his performance, either. “He’s a guy who comes every day to practice, and you can tell it means a lot to him,” running back Myles Willis said. “I’m impressed, but I’m not surprised.”
John Johnson, who logged an interception in the game, said that Fadule’s play helped energize the team on both sides of the ball.
“Oh, yeah, definitely [he energized the defense],” Johnson said. “Just seeing a guy that, you know, probably thought he never had a chance to play… seeing him out there will energize you.”
Addazio also thought that the energy Fadule brought to the offense spread to the defense as well. “I think the energy rippled through the team, both sides of the ball,” he said.
For Fadule, playing for BC at Alumni Stadium was a dream. An Eagles fan ever since he moved to Massachusetts, he remembers attending games when he was as young as 7 years old with his father.
“If you wanted to go see a big college football game when I was younger, you’d go to BC,” he said. “I remember my dad taking me to games here. In the back of my mind, it was like, I always wanted to play at the highest possible level, and BC’s the big hometown team.”
Today, after playing more than three quarters of a Division I ACC college football game, Fadule accomplished that childhood goal. The significance of this wasn’t lost on his teammates.
“He really cares about this team and this University,” Willis said.
At the end of the day, however, no matter how special it was or how well Fadule played, the Eagles still lost. Addazio, when asked about next week’s starting quarterback, insisted that it would be a thoughtful decision made after close review of the game tape. Fadule isn’t guaranteed to play next week by any means. But Addazio, who repeatedly emphasized the team’s youth as a possible reason for their poor performance this season, did praise his young quarterback for rising to the occasion against Virginia Tech today.
“We’ve got a good group of young guys right here,” Addazio said. “You saw one of them today step up. I think these young guys are developing right now, and I saw evidence of that on the field today.”
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor