After the firing of seven-year head coach Steve Addazio, Boston College football had a hole to fill. Heading into a bowl game after the new year, the Eagles looked to none other than wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell, BC ’10, to take over the position on an interim basis. Though the Eagles took a hit in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl, head coach Jeff Hafley has decided to keep Gunnell on, this time serving as the coach for the running backs.
Gunnell has spent the last four years as the wide receivers coach for the Eagles, coaching two Eagles who headed to the NFL in 2018: Michael Walker and Jeff Smith. Also in 2018, the Eagles had the sixth highest scoring offense in program history with 32.0 points per game.
In the 2019 season, Gunnell helped to develop freshman Zay Flowers into a standout receiver. He also worked with Kobay White, the Eagles’ leading receiver this year, who recently entered the transfer portal. Gunnell oversaw the development of wide receiver and running back Ben Glines, who went from just 14 receiving yards in 2017 to 170 yards and four touchdowns through the air in 2018.
“One of the first decisions on building our staff was to bring back Rich,” said Hafley, per BCEagles.com. “He did a tremendous job leading our program for the bowl game and we are excited to have him on our coaching staff.”
Gunnell’s impressive record with the Eagles was enough for Hafley to want to keep him on for another year, and his longtime connection to BC is even more of a draw.
Gunnell graduated from BC with a degree in communication and was a four-year wide receiver for the Eagles, as well as a team captain and MVP his senior year. That same year, he also earned all-ACC honors.
After his time at BC, Gunnell took a brief step away from the Heights and headed across town to coach the defensive line at Tufts for the 2011 season. He then returned to BC as a graduate assistant for the following two seasons.
Gunnell then made the jump to become a head coach at Marian High School in Framingham, Mass. for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The New Jersey native’s reach to the Garden State will be helpful for the Eagles’ recruiting. Two of the first nine players to sign on the first day of this year’s early signing period, Charlie Gordinier and Korey Smith, both attended high school in Gunnell’s home state.
The Eagles have been lacking a certain power through the air over the last few years, and adding Gunnell to the receiver staff may be the first step to bringing back Doug Flutie-era connections.
Losing star running back AJ Dillon to the NFL draft could be detrimental to the Eagles, but putting a seasoned coach like Gunnell in charge of of the backfield could all the help BC needs to maintain its strong running identity.
Featured Image by Butch Dill / AP Photo