Sports, Football

Players Are Optimistic About ‘Getting In’ to the Hafley Era

The Boston College football staff looks completely different than it did one year ago. Even so, after new head football coach Jeff Hafley cleaned house and built a new coaching staff nearly from scratch, Boston College football players said they are hopeful about the relationships they will build over the next season at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

“Just from the conversations I’ve had with all the coaches, they’re eager to win,” said wide receiver Kobay White. “They seem like winners, and that’s why it was so easy for a lot of us to buy into, because I think that most of us on this team are competitive.”

Many of the players said they have good impressions of the new coaches even after just three weeks of working together. White, who recently removed his name from the transfer portal, cited the coaching changes as one of his main reasons to stay. The retaining of wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell, who will move to coaching the backfield next season, was also a major factor in his decision. 

“Coach Hafley was honestly amazing throughout the process,” said White. “Right after I entered my name in the portal, he gave me a call. I told him why, and he respected my decision 100 percent.”

Even though White was weighing his options when he received the call, the wide receiver said Hafley stayed involved in maintaining the team-leading WR for another year. White recorded a team-high 424 yards and five touchdowns in 11 starts last season. 

“I went to the team meeting, and all the coaches introduced themselves,” White said. “Right after that I called my dad, and I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s gonna be extremely hard for me to leave here.’”

Phil Jurkovec, a sophomore quarterback who recently transferred to BC from Notre Dame, cited the coaches as a major factor in his decision as well. 

“The two criteria I was looking at when making a choice as to where to go were really about the coaches,” said Jurkovec. “[I looked for] the coaches that were going to believe in me and develop me, because I think I have a lot of room to grow. And that’s what I found with Coach Hafley and Coach Cignetti.”

Frank Cignetti Jr., who previously worked alongside Hafley at both Pittsburgh and Rutgers, will join the Eagles as the offensive coordinator to replace Mike Bajakian. Cignetti has spent his career on the offensive side of the ball, so his expertise is well matched with Hafley’s on the defensive end. 

“He’s been able to communicate a lot of defensive schemes and defensive-minded things with me because he’s been a D-Coordinator,” said linebacker Max Richardson, who recently announced his return to the Heights for his final year of eligibility. “He’s a brilliant-minded coach, along with all the other defensive coaches he brought in, so I’m excited to get started.”

Though the players have only had three weeks to get to know the new coaching staff, their initial reactions all had one thing in common: They said that the coaches are authentic and genuine people who are eager to create lasting relationships. 

“You can kind of tell when you meet genuine people, and I feel like Coach Hafley did a great job of hiring staff,” said White. “Coach Hafley is just someone who’s very authentic, and he’s just being himself.”

“He seems like a players’ coach,” said tight end Hunter Long on Hafley. “He’s trying to connect with us through great one-on-one meetings with him.”

Back in his introductory press conference, Hafley began his tenure with the phrase “Get In,”  a line he continues to preach to both the BC community and to his players. At halftime of the hockey game against Boston University, Hafley continued his message in search of student support for the team. 

“What Coach Hafley has told us is that all the guys who are getting in will be a part of something great,” said Richardson. “Those who are not in, well, we hope that you’re on the other side of our schedules so that we can show you what we’re made of.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

January 30, 2020

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