The quarterback battle is a thing of the past for Boston College football, as Phil Jurkovec firmly cemented his spot in the backfield a season ago. Dennis Grosel joins him in the two-deep, and despite Grosel’s record-tying performance against Virginia when Jurkovec went down with injury a season ago, Jurkovec retains his spot at the top of the depth chart for the 2021 season. Head coach Jeff Hafley’s decision at quarterback comes as no surprise, as Jurkovec threw for 2,558 passing yards in his first 10 starts, the most by any BC quarterback in program history. Jurkovec’s late release haunted him in 2020, but with the offensive line returning 100 percent of its production from a season ago, he should have ample opportunity to get deep looks downfield.
BC’s run game could not be more different than it was in 2019. Two years ago, the Eagles had AJ Dillon and a run-run-pass game plan to depend on, and for the most part, it worked. Fast forward two years, though, and Dillon is making a name for himself in the NFL, leaving a hole in the back field the size of the Grand Canyon. Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s more balanced, pro-style offense makes the run game less of a central focus, but BC is still at a loss for a consistent rushing attack. Travis Levy headlines the depth chart at running back, though he struggled last season, averaging just 3.24 yards per carry. As a graduate student, he and fellow fifth-year Alec Sinkfield have the most years under their belt, but years don’t necessarily translate to in-game experience. Freshman Xavier Coleman and redshirt sophomore Pat Garwo III may also get touches during Week One as BC tries to find its ground game identity.
Hafley said in one of his weekly pregame press conferences on Tuesday that he plans to “mix and match and spread them out,” in regards to his tight ends Trae Barry and Joey Luchetti. Behind those two on the depth chart is Charlie Gordinier. All three are unfamiliar faces to BC fans, as Hunter Long has taken the brunt of receptions at tight end over the last two years. Luchetti started six games his redshirt freshman year as a defensive end before making the transition to tight end as a redshirt sophomore. An injured shoulder in preseason, however, ruled him out for the season. Barry is a graduate transfer out of Jacksonville State, where he finished his senior season with 33 receptions for 534 yards and a touchdown.
X (Wide Receiver)
CJ Lewis headlines the depth chart at X after a breakout 2020 season. His 28 receptions for 460 yards and five touchdowns—good for a team-leading 16.4 yards per receptions—made him the perfect fill-in when Kobay White went down with an ACL injury in preseason. White returns this year, starting as a second-stringer to Lewis at X. Two seasons ago, the preseason All-ACC selection led the team with 29 catches in 13 games for 460 yards and five touchdowns. True freshman Jaden Williams can also expect some snaps.
Z (Wide Receiver)
It’s no surprise that Zay Flowers earned the nod at Z receiver. His stock in the deep game skyrocketed after each game, starting with a breakout game at Duke, going for 162 yards on just five receptions, including a 61-yard catch-and-run touchdown. He was later the hero in a one-point win over Pitt with the go-ahead score in overtime. Though Flowers is the obvious choice at Z, Jehlani Galloway showed promise a season ago with 15 receptions for 197 yards, earning a spot on the two-deep as well.
F (Wide Receiver)
The 2020 season was the year of breakout performances for BC receivers, and just like Flowers and Lewis, Ohio State transfer Jaelen Gill made a name for himself in BC’s pro-style attack. He earned the third starting nod at receiver on BC’s first depth chart of 2021, while Taji Johnson and true freshman Lewis Bond will both likely get touches as well. Gill averaged 15 yards per reception, the third best on the team behind Flowers and Lewis.
BC’s starters in the trenches could not be less surprising. Heralded as one of the best units in the country prior to the 2020 season, the Eagles’ O-line didn’t quite live up to expectations a season ago, but with five returning starters, the plaudits are once again rolling in. Of the nine Eagles named to the All-ACC Team in 2020, four were offensive linemen, including Alec Lindstrom, Zion Johnson, Ben Petrula, and Tyler Vrabel. Because of COVID-19, every athlete was granted an extra year of eligibility, which starting right tackle Petrula will use for his fifth year of starting. He has started 48 consecutive games, the most on the team by an entire season’s worth of games. Vrabel will take over at left tackle, Johnson at left guard, Lindstrom at center, and Christian Mahogany will start at right guard.
The second-most experienced position group behind BC’s offensive line this season is its specialists. Graduate student Aaron Boumerhi and senior Danny Longman will both take field goals and extra points, and freshman Connor Lytton may also see the field as a placekicker. Boumerhi had a near-perfect year in 2020, going 16-for-20 on field goal attempts with a long of 41 yards. Graduate student Grant Carlson will punt, backed up by Longman. All together, eight of BC’s 10 kickers, punters, holders, and returners on the depth chart are either graduate students or seniors. Either Longman or Stephen Ruiz will take kickoffs.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff
Featured Graphic by Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor