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BOSTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 1, 2017
STEVE ADDAZIO: Excited about the potential of the class. The '17 class is a class that really fits our needs and I think really fits our culture at Boston College. We have three mid-year signees, 20 total, from ten different states, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. 15 signees from the five-hour radius. 14 were football captains, five were multi-year football captains, five were multi-sport captains. Eight were from public schools, 12 from private or parochial schools. All kinds of different honors, going from E.J. Perry, Boston Globe's Division I Player of the Year, Levy was the 2016 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, Ben Stewart was the Indy Star Defensive Player of the Year, McQuarrie was the Concord Fall Male Athlete of the Year, Emer was the 2016 Trench Trophy award winner, which was the top lineman, McDuffie was the 2016 Buffalo News Player of the Year. All-American games. Noah Jordan-Williams in the Army All-American game. Stewart in the Blue-Grey All-American game, Stewart in the USA Football 19u team.
Our deal, our philosophy is identification, evaluation, recruiting and closing. We are looking for toughness, character, love of the game, passion, accountability and great work ethic. That's kind of how we go about this thing, all right. We have our needs, and then we're looking for the best players that we feel are going to meet those needs and fit the culture that we have and that we need to have at Boston College, okay, and it's really been that way forever, and that hasn't really changed, okay.
Talking about our class, let's start out with AJ Dillon. He's a difference maker. AJ Dillon is a game changer. He's one of the very best players in America, maybe one of the very best players to be recruited in the history of Boston College. He's the No. 1 rated player in New England. He is coached by Paul Zukauskas, who is a former BC captain, great player, 7th round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. Paul has developed a great program there, and AJ is a great representative of their high school and will be an impact player here.
I think AJ is one of those guys that has the ability to captivate Boston, which is an unbelievable sports city. His personality, his ability, his charisma I think gives him a tremendous platform for his future here at Boston College. Really couldn't be happier about AJ and what he brings to the table with his ability and who he is as a person and his family.
Travis Levy from Sherwood, Maryland, was a mid-year enrollee, running back, fantastic player, great work ethic, great attitude here right now working.
E.J. Perry, also mid-year, quarterback from Andover, comes from a football family, a sports family. Uncles are coaching with the Texans, one was with Princeton, now a head coach here locally. Dad is the head coach. Football is in their blood. He's an unbelievable competitor. You talk about it; you saw it all over him. He throws the ball extremely well. He's a real gym rat, football guy.
CJ Lewis, wide receiver, athlete from Cheshire Academy, played for Dave Dykeman, coming here along with his teammate, Brandon Sebastian, we'll talk about in a second. Just great athleticism. You're talking about a big, tall, long, fast, great ball skills, great athlete, 6'4" guy, reminds me a lot of Mike Williams from Clemson. I mean, that kind of potential. You know, size at that position, I think is a critical, critical deal. Excited about him.
Noah Jordan-Williams, wide receiver from Christian Brothers. Noah is a big, physical wide receiver, extremely athletic. He has those real big strong hands. Coach Belichick talks about get open and catch the football. That guy is going to catch the football. Really, really tremendous athlete, teammate of John Phillips who is on our team right now.
Caleb Stoneburner, wide receiver from Dublin, Ohio. He's another big receiver. He's a 6'4" guy that's a 4-4 guy. Vertical threat. Great athlete. Great hands. Go up and catch the ball in a crowd. So we're talking about big, physical, tall receivers, and we felt we need to add that to our team. These are extraordinary guys. We couldn't be more thrilled about them.
Patrick Brown, tight end from Cathedral Catholic, along Tate Haynes, who we'll speak about in a minute, along with Ray Smith, who came from Cathedral Catholic in California. This is a guy who was on a state champion high school football team. He's a great athlete. Tremendous ball skills, great blocker. Interesting thing about him is he's also a scratch golfer. Talks a little bit about his eye-hand coordination. That's really -- you know, as I get older and I try to learn how to play golf, I appreciate the fine motor skills it takes to play golf. This guy has got that, as well as being a dominant blocker on film as well as being a ball catcher on a great program. We're excited about him.
Hunter Long from Deerfield Academy. Hunter was the guy we had in camp. Another great athlete. Tremendous vertical leap, great 40 speed, just really good route runner, really developed physically over the course of the last year, and we think we've got a real great player here that is very athletic tight end. He and Patrick Brown are two really athletic guys now. We're excited about that.
Drew McQuarrie from John Stark High School in New Hampshire was a high school quarterback. He was at camp, as well. Big, another big, physical guy who played high school quarterback, and is a really good basketball player. Those are real athletes. He's going to be playing tight end. He had great ball skills in camp. He's going to grow into being just a big man, and we really liked his athleticism and his mind-set.
Alec Lindstrom is here mid year. Alec, the brother, Chris, I mean, he is going to play center for us. Just like Chris, going to come out of high school undersized, not going to be on a Division I radar because of that and is going to end up being a great player. We had him in camp. He was dominant in camp on both sides of the ball, dominant. So he's going to gain in weight, he's going to go from 240 to 260 to 280 to 300 and be just like Chris from the standpoint he's going to end up having the size.
But his tenacity, his aggressiveness and his physicalness is remarkable, it really is. That's one of the guys truly under the radar that will become one hell of a player here, and that's a fact.
Ben Petrula, offensive line from St. Peter's Prep. This is a really, really outstanding high school football player. You know, a highly-regarded, rated player, who is big and physical. You know, I mean, unbelievable. He came to Boston College to our camp. He's a four-year starter at St. Peter's and has played against elite competition. This guy is a mountain of a guy and he's a heck of a player. He's an elite guy coming in here right now from an elite program and we have very, very high expectations on him.
Nate Emer, defensive tackle from Iroquois, New York. Nate attended our camp, as well. He's a 6'5", 260-pound guy who you can just see is a raw-bone guy who is going to fill out and become a big man. He's another guy a little bit under the radar that he's got a great motor and a great toughness to him. We feel great about Nate and his potential and where he's going to grow to be.
TJ Rayam, defensive tackle and nose guard, out of the Peddie School. He's originally from Alabama; Alabaster, Alabama. He's a 300-pound guy, and he's an athlete. He's a wrestler, and he can move and he's powerful. He uses his hands well and it helps us interiorly inside, which is one of the things we were really looking for as we were filling out this class.
We really kind of said to ourselves, you know what, we need to make sure we have enough guys interiorly on defense. And so, you know, while we've been recruiting him for quite some time, we really wanted to add him into the fold and make a few changes here, because we felt like we needed to have more depth interiorly.
Marcus Valdez from Don Bosco Prep. He's a teammate of Tom Sweeney's. Obviously we've had a lot Bosco guys and will continue to. Greg Toal was his coach. Greg's sons played here, and this is a guy, he got injured during the season. He would have blown up. He's a heck of a player. Great motor, great leverage guy, great power, real good jump off the ball. As he gets healthy again will become a hell of a player for us and we're excited about Marcus.
Isaiah McDuffie, the linebacker from Bennett, New York, from Buffalo, coached by his dad. He's a sam backer, excellent speed, excellent agility. Was a great running back in high school. Rushed for over 1,600 yards. He is a big, fast, physical athlete, and he's a hell of a player. I think he's another guy that has a chance to be an impact player and really exceptional athlete, and we're really excited about Isaiah.
Paul Theobald, linebacker from Seton Hall Prep, attended the same high school as Connor Wujciak. He led their defense. Very instinctive guy. Physical guy. Anthony Campanile's brother, Vito, coached him. Just a really good football player. He's going to come up here and can move well, tough, gets to the ball, great vision. Love him.
Brandon Sebastian, defensive back from Cheshire Academy, one of the best athletes in the country. And that's a fact. That's not just some statement I'm making right now. We had him in camp. His measurables in camp were completely off the chart. Speed, movement, vertical ability, off the chart. Okay, we're talking about a 4-3 guy, talking about a 38-vertical guy. This guy can go now, okay. Really, really athletic guy from west haven Connecticut, played at Cheshire Academy, as did CJ Lewis.
Between Stewart we talked about earlier from Cathedral, we've had a long-standing relationship there. He's a multi-sport performer, All-State football player, a guy who might be as tough as anybody I've seen ever coming out of high school. He's a wrestler and going to compete for the state title. I've watched some of his videos and wrestling, and you would not want your son competing against you on the wrestling mats, I'm telling you. He's unbelievable. I just think he has a chance to be just a phenomenal player. His maturity, his mind-set is different than your average high school player, okay. Fantastic.
So all in all, as I said, I think we went out through our camp, through evaluation, found guys that we feel are going to upgrade our football team. We found guys that we feel are guys that will compete at a high level and they will most importantly, they are future BC men. And that's important here, because here, it's about being a really good football player and it's about being a really good teammate and it's about respecting and wanting a great education, and leaving here with a degree playing a high level football and having the ability to go out and make a difference in the world.
So as we go on the road and recruit, we are really looking for a select group of guys. And it's that balancing act with all those things I just talked about together, not just on one side of the thing, okay. And yet, we have to compete in what we all know this year is the best league in college football, and we play in that toughest division. But we are never going to compromise the values of Boston College to do that. We are going to find that blend, bring them in, develop, grow, much like we have done in the past here, with the likes of Matt Ryan, who is a three-star, Jamie Silva was a two-star, B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, Brian Toal was one of the highest-star players ever to come here.
The history of Boston College has been that of identification, evaluation, and development. That's been our history and it starts with toughness, love of the game, fitting the BC culture, respecting your education, and wanting an elite education and wanting to be a part of a team that's a real team with a bunch of guys that are like minded, and I think we have accomplished that again and continue to build our roster and excited about the future of where we're headed. And these young players are going to represent our program and our university in an elite way.
Q. Dillon, is that the inside/outside --
STEVE ADDAZIO: AJ has got, I mean, elite size and speed, right. He's unique. There's not a lot of guys like AJ in the country now. I mean, that's how talented he is. You're talking about a 6'1", 245-pound guy with elite speed and explosive capability. Okay. Travis is not that size right now, but Travis is not small. He's going to be a 220-pound back and he's got decent height. I'd say, you know, he's a 5'11" guy, every bit of that, every bit of that.
So they are both big backs. Just that AJ is by standard, in college football, I mean, he's elite size and speed. Anybody in the country is looking for that kind of size and speed now. He's hard to come by. Hard to come by.
Q. Are we talking Williams' potential with this kid?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Oh, yeah.
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, when he walks in the room -- when he walks in the room, that's what you're going to say. I mean, like, you know, put together now. Boom. He was a highly, highly, highly-recruited guy nationally, okay. From the beginning to the bitter end. But this is a guy that's got a focus and a mind-set and this is a BC man. This is a guy that understands -- a little bit like how we used to talk about Andre at the end. He understood what it meant to be at Boston College and how much he respected his academics.
AJ is this kind of guy. He's very mature, very mature, and really wanted to be in an offense that was an opportunity for him to be able to be that big back, you know, as opposed to something different, right. And has a passion for Boston and the northeast, you know. That's all legit, is what I'm telling you, really cool, you know. Because I think that's so important, you know, and then that BC degree and that experience is very, very important to him, okay.
So that's a very unique kind of deal right there with that kind of, you know, ability level.
Q. With E.J., how long was he on your radar for and what do you think he can contribute?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, it's hard to tell next season but getting here mid year certainly gives you a great advantage. He is a talented guy. I mean, he's talented, and he's got a lot -- I called him a gym rat, in a complimentary way. I watched him -- you watch that guy play basketball. I watched him practice basketball. His competitive nature is very high. He can spin it and he can throw it and he's athletic. Being here mid semester is going to give him a great jump on that, and I'll have a much better feel as we get into spring football -- I can't see him with a football in his hand now, but I think based on our evaluation, from camp, and watching him in high school football and high school basketball, we have a very high evaluation of him.
Q. Catholic here, having him right here -- what is it about that school? Did you get a beat on them when you were looking?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yes, I think what happens is 30 percent of our population of BC is a California population. Here is a school that is a Jesuit school and here is an elite program in the state of California. And, you know, Ray coming in here, Ray was a little bit of an under-the-radar kind of guy, and he's an impact player. He's really going to be really good. I mean, everybody in the country wishes they had Ray Smith.
And then you have an opportunity to go back into his high school and recruit two really good football players. I mean, Tate Haynes, Tate Haynes -- did I not mention Tate earlier?
Q. No, you did I think. You rolled over him.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Let me go back on that. Let's talk about Tate Haynes for a second. Tate Haynes is an elite athlete. Tate Haynes was the starting quarterback, okay, of their team that won the state championship. Tate Haynes is -- like I said Brandon Sebastian is an elite athlete, Tate Haynes is a freak athlete. He's a guy that we are bringing in here to look at the quarterback, okay, because he's got it. And we are also bringing him in here as an athlete. Both his dad was an All-Pro player for the Patriots and then for the Oakland Raiders. We're talking about with Tate Haynes, we're talking about a guy who is maybe one of the best athletes in the top two of our class to come in here now.
So, you know, I think what happens sometimes is you get a guy, a guy, you say, will he be a quarterback, will he not be a quarterback and you start trying to fit him in position. But he's a marquee prospect coming out of high school, and he'll have a great career here. And he's from that same high school.
So you've got Tate, you've got Pat, and then you've got Ray. And so you have like a little bit of a pipeline in there now, which when you're going that far away from home helps you because they know guys from home, and those are really important things.
But the right kind of fit, you know, the fit from high school to college. It's a like-minded mission of the schools. So these are elite players and just really excited about all three of them; one that we have, two that are coming. But I really want to emphasize for you guys, I really want to emphasize Tate Haynes. I saved that special. What happens is those guys were the last guys that we got their letters because of the time difference. So I had gone in earlier in a press conference and I couldn't speak about Patrick Brown and I couldn't speak about Tate Haynes because I had not had their letter yet because of the timing, time difference.
But I really want to emphasize that for you here now because I have a chance to speak about those guys. We are so excited about that connection. That connection right there, that pipeline right there is a heck of a pipeline, and we want to establish more inroads through the State of California.
Q. Tate is listed as a corner on here. Quarterback and corner --
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, no, we're going to bring him in as a quarterback, but we have had a lot of conversation about he's an elite corner. I mean, he's a natural corner. But he's a leader as a quarterback. He's got a lot of it, you know what I mean. He's one of those guys that has a lot of stick. He led his team to the state championship, you know. You can tell that he's got that about him.
When you have a chance to get around these kinds of guys like that, I love those kinds of players, man, I just love them. It speaks volumes of who they are, because your best athletes usually go to that position in high school.
Q. Mike is a key position for you guys -- can take under his wing as a side guy?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Absolutely. He's got all those characteristics, good size, good range, can run, loves football, really like him a lot, yeah.
Q. Guys that played quarterback in high school, why do you see them at wide receiver and tight end?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, that's a good question. You know, we just felt that body type, skill set, they are difference makers potentially at those positions.
You know, CJ really, I mean, like I said, I gave him a pretty high comparison there because I really feel that way. When we had him in camp, he worked out a little bit for us at receiver, so we had a chance to evaluate that. It wasn't just a projection. You know, like Tate Haynes, we had Tate in camp and CJ in camp and we had Drew in camp. We had those guys in camp so we had a chance to evaluate them at that position, as opposed to just project them and we put them there. Both those guys exhibited unbelievable great skill sets for those positions.
Like I said, I'm into the quarterback -- when I see quarterbacks -- some quarterbacks you say, you know they are quarterbacks and some they are a this or a this or a this, but you know they are one of the best athletes in their program and they usually have a lot of football savvy to them. And I always felt like that was a position that when you have a winner and a leader there, they are going to play somewhere for you now. They can play somewhere.
Q. Do you see any guys making a real impact on offense or defense?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I mean, I think guys like AJ, we talked about. You know, we talked about Isaiah. Honestly, it's a good question you ask me, because when you make me stop like that, and pause, it's because I think there's a fair amount of them. And, I mean, I almost don't want to start going down the list because then you start saying -- I think there's a fair amount of these guys and you guys been around me long enough, I don't usually go down that path this easy, you know what I'm saying.
But I think there's a fair amount of these guys. You've got these big receivers, and then they can fly, you know. You've got the tight ends but we have depth at tight end so we have the ability to bring them along, but you know, you take a guy like Hunter Long, he's a year-older guy. He's Deerfield Academy. He's a year older.
And Ben Petrula is a mountain of a man. I said that to you already. He's got great work ethic. You watch his film. TJ Rayam is a 300-pound wrestler interiorly there. Tate Haynes is an elite athlete and Tate is an elite athlete.
You know what I did, as I started rambling here, one of the things, I don't know why I did that, one of the guys I haven't talked about -- see, I don't know why I just did that. I must have got my eyes caught on something here. I haven't mentioned Jahmin Muse. Jahmin, what an athlete. I mean, I love this kid, guys. I mean, I want you to know that. I love him. He is a two-time high school captain, played every position in high school, kickoff, punt. He can play for us right away. I mean, he's from Elizabeth. I love the kid. I love his family. I love his support system around him. He is a big, big, physical athlete. Jahmin is an athlete.
So there's a guy -- I talked about Tate, I talked about Jahmin those are guys that can -- Brandon Sebastian is an athlete. Ben Stewart is an elite competitor. When you watch him wrestle, how can you not think he might be able to do something for you. Boy, I can't believe -- as I went through, as I said, my eyes jumped sometimes. You know what I was doing? I was skipping ahead. Jahmin, what a prospect, what a player. I mean, we're sky-high over him.
So, yeah, as I go through this answer, talking about these guys, there are some guys in here that can flat play. Can they come in and make impact? Yes, yes, yes, they can. And you never know, as we've seen in the past, all of a sudden you had injuries and you had issues and these guys come in and play. I mean, that won't change, you know.
Q. I imagine you were pretty sold on AJ before the injury. How does that impact anything going into next season?
STEVE ADDAZIO: No, he just had some sort of light leg injury. That was nothing. Everybody in the country is after that guy. And rightfully so. That was the premier player in the northeast. So that's a good day for the Eagles.
Q. I know rankings aren't really a big deal to you, but you jumped up 20 spots from last year in terms of nationally, but do you see any difference in your strategy?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, you guys know that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Rankings are based off of star rankings. You know, sometimes on, sometimes off. What we try to do is go after the guys that we have in camp a lot and then we have a great knowledge about and that fit our culture.
You know, it's hard to -- it's hard to -- just paper-cutted myself.
It's hard to really get overly hung up on that stuff. Not to say that it's not a means of measurement, but we feel great about our guys, and I think the proof is in the pudding four years from now. You know, I think even to a guy who as recently as John Johnson, who comes out of here, who is an unheralded guy. I took the job here, he was being recruited here, and that guy right there, I mean, he has turned every eye there is at Senior Bowl. Great example of a really non-rated guy that comes through the program, doesn't even get a chance to red-shirt. Doesn't even get a chance to red-shirt. Truman Gutapfel, another example of a guy you look at. You know what I'm saying? So how do you know, you know?
And in the northeast, in the northeast, traditionally, this year, traditionally, there's not a lot of high-ranked guys. So the base of our recruiting is going to come within a five-hour radius and really the northeast, New England.
It's just the nature of the deal. Like you take a guy like between Petrula, he decided not to go to any of those combines, do any of that stuff. He committed early. That guy, he's an elite player. So, you know, not to say that there aren't some highly ranked guys that deserve to be highly, sure. But that's how the rankings come about, what's perceived. We didn't take a class of 25, so we don't junior college recruit. We get the guys that are right for Boston College and right for our program, and I think we put a lot of evaluation, a lot of research in them, and feel great about them. I think when we look back at them, we have to evaluate them based on what they did earlier in their career.
I think someone told me today that in the Super Bowl, there's like -- I'll probably be wrong. But I thought I heard there's something like three or four high-star rated guys playing, high-star guys coming out of high school that are playing the Super Bowl on Sunday. I mean, now, it doesn't mean that, you know, it is a means of measurement, and you know, but let's -- let's see. We'll see. We'll see.
BC's history has proven to be what I'm saying. Because we have put an awful lot of guys in the NFL at Boston College over the years and have had an awful lot of meaningful careers and there was not -- I would challenge to find out, I mean, maybe Greg Toal or Brian Toal might have been a five-star. Beyond that, year after year after year, you're not going to find too many and a very small handful, a small amount of four-stars. So I would say that we are a great proving ground for that.
Q. In that vein, the fact that Landry is coming back, does that send a message to the kids about what you were just saying?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think Harold -- I think Harold, what you saw by Harold coming back here is a guy that, No. 1, wants to finish what he started with his teammates, which I think speaks to the team.
No. 2, Harold wants to get his degree. That's very important to him, his Boston College degree, which speaks volumes.
No. 3, I think Harold feels that he has a position coach that's an elite status coach, okay, Coach Pasqualoni, and with another great year of work, and I think he believes in the fact that I'm going to help him and we're going to really make sure that we help in that development to have a chance to become a first-round pick.
So for all of those reasons, and I think it shows you the confidence level in what he feels that he can do for this program and what this program can do for him, and then the other guys in the program see that. And I think recruits see that, because, you know, I mean, he's a highly-recognizable name right now. He led America in sacks. He's a young guy. He didn't red-shirt. He truly is a young guy. He's like a 19-, 20-year-old guy. He's got room for real legitimate development. I'm very proud of his decision-making and very proud of the way he went about this, and I think it will speak volumes for his future.
Q. When AJ was committed to Michigan, there was word that he might be playing on both sides of the ball as a linebacker, as well. Is there any part of you that maybe wants to test him out?
STEVE ADDAZIO: No. I want him to be what he has a chance to be, as he will be an elite player as a running back, absolutely.
Q. If my math is correct, this will be your fourth recruiting class.
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, I think our third real recruiting class. Obviously when I came in my first year, I honored all the commitments that were here, and really wasn't much I could do at that point in time. And so this is our third real recruiting class.
Q. The question being, does it feel any better for you, starting to have your full crop of kids, kids you've brought into the program?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think what you feel better about is, I feel great about all of our kids here, whether I recruited them or not. I think what you feel great about is that our roster is balanced out. That's what is the critical point here. You have balanced out our roster. We don't have voids in our roster. Some part of it, some parts of it are older than others, but we don't have the voids; the lack of numbers at positions. And we have a balanced roster, which is the way it should be, okay. And I feel great about, you know, the guys that we have scattered amongst the offense, defense and special teams.
I think a great indicator sometimes is I know everybody equates special teams to the kicker, but there's a lot of components that go into special teams. We have a lot of guys right now that you're dying to get into special teams. That tells you what you need to know.
When I first got here, it was like, who was going to play this, who was going to play that. We have raised the speed and the athleticism of our program, dramatically, okay. It doesn't mean that we didn't have some elite guys. As a whole, we've got a large amount of guys to pick from. Usually in special teams, you're looking for those linebackers, safety, skilled, speed athletes and we always used to have a smaller pool and we have a big pool, that kind of tells you. So we've had a chance to do that, replenish, build and get the right numbers in.
So that's really what I feel we've been able to do, and when I came here, that's what I knew had to be done. So it's like how do you know -- you can look at a roster and you can project out where the voids are going to be. I mean, you know, when you get involved in a place, do you a roster analysis. You don't just show up and be-bop in and say, hey. You evaluate everything about a program and a team and a roster, so we knew it would take time to re-recruit the roster.
What we had some success was doing was a couple of fifth-year transplants along the way because we are not going to go the JC route. We were able to do that early and one of the most notable, but one of them being Tyler Murphy at year two at quarterback, which was a critical position. That was a critical deal for us, along with Ian Silberman was a pro player and Matt Patchan was a pro player and Ty-Meer Brown -- and I'm going to forget somebody, but some real big, inserts, if you will, in the beginning. Not to say we wouldn't take advantage of utilizing that again down the road or this year or whatever, but we have a very good nucleus of where we are right now. So I think that's important. Anybody else? Great.
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