CBS Sports has dubbed Boston College football as “O-line U” thanks to its lasting legacy in the offensive trenches. For years, BC has churned out top-notch big men on the offensive line—take Chris Lindstrom, for example, drafted No. 14 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Looking to carry on the legacy this year are Zion Johnson and Ben Petrula, who the Eagles voted on to become two of their 2020 captains.
Senior linebacker Max Richardson and junior defensive end Marcus Valdez also heard their names called as captains during Wednesday’s practice. Running back Travis Levy fills out the final spot as the fifth player to don a capital “C” on the front of his jersey.
“I think when you vote on captains and it comes from the team, that’s the group of guys that the team picked to lead them,” head coach Jeff Hafley said during Wednesday’s media availability. “Through COVID and everything else, the leadership had to come from the team… And I think these five guys have probably been some of the biggest ones to get it done.”
Petrula and Johnson are two of the four returning starters on BC’s offensive line, and Johnson said the two have built up a seamless connection over the last few years.
“One of the main things is just instincts when it comes to starters—just knowing what’s going on on the field through experience,” Johnson said during a press conference Wednesday. “We have returners like Ben Petrula and Tyler Vrabel and Alec Lindstrom, so we have that experience, and we work well together. So even with the new scheme, that relationship is still there.”
Though Johnson is a senior, this year is only in his second year with the Eagles, as he spent his first few years of eligibility with Davidson. But in his first year at BC in 2019, Johnson played 42 snaps off the bench in the season opener against Virginia Tech. He appeared in all 13 games last season, including seven starts, en route to an All-ACC Second Team selection. This year, he earned a Preseason All-ACC selection, and sports analyst Phil Steele named him a Preseason All-American.
Petrula was also named to the Preseason All-ACC team this year after finding his name on the All-ACC Second Team list in 2019. Petrula started all 13 games for the Eagles last season, including playing all 77 snaps at right tackle against Virginia Tech and all 83 snaps against Kansas.
Another 2019 All-ACC Second Team selection, Richardson led the team with 108 tackles in 12 starts, including 14.5 tackles for loss, as a redshirt junior last year. Already this year, he finds himself on a number of national award watch lists.
Valdez is the youngest of this year’s captains, as a redshirt junior. In 2019, he played in all 13 games, including one start, and recorded 26 tackles, including 7.5 for loss.
Over Levy’s first three years with BC, he played in 38 games, including time at running back, wide receiver, and special teams. Last year, he racked up the second-most all-purpose yards on the team, with 1,059. On special teams, the Olney, Md. native returned 37 kicks for 832 yards, an average of 22.5 yards per return.
“You can try to lead all you want as a coach—you can demand, and you can motivate,” Hafley said. “And we do all that. But at the end of the day, they’re not around us all the time, so the leadership has to come from them.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Editor