Much like on the offensive side of the ball, and on the defensive line, the 2002 Boston College linebacker corps must replace a key player from 2001 who moved onto the NFL. Linebacker Scott Bradley finished second on the team with 85 tackles (45 solo, 6 for a loss), three sacks for 16 yards, two interceptions, six quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble before joining the New York Jets.
The Eagles return their other two starters at LB: senior co-captain Vinny Ciurciu and junior Josh Ott. Ciurciu started all twelve games last season, including the Music City Bowl, while Ott was in the starting lineup for the last five games and the bowl game after returning from an injury that forced him to miss the first three contests.
In 2001, Ciurciu, in his first season at Boston College following his transfer from Clemson, finished first on the team with 87 tackles (41 solo, 4 for a loss), two interceptions, seven quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble. He returns for his senior season to provide leadership for the Eagles from his middle linebacker position. Junior J.D. Schmidt and redshirt freshman Jon Misiewicz will back up Ciurciu.
On one side, Ciurciu will be flanked by Ott, who, despite missing the first three games of 2001, completed his season fourth on the team with 75 tackles (45 solo, 5 for a loss), one sack for two yards, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery. Sports Illustrated named Ott to its "all-bowl" team for his seven tackle, one interception performance. He will be pushed by senior Jerome Ledbetter (nine tackles in 2001) and junior Kevin Kiley.
The other side- the one vacated by Bradley- remains a question mark for the Eagles. Junior Brian Flores, who recorded 22 tackles (16 solo), one interception, and a fumble recovery, appears to be the starter entering camp. Redshirt freshman Ray Henderson and sophomore T.J. Stancil, whose versatility allows him to play both linebacker and safety, will back up Flores. Redshirt freshman Patrick McShane will provide further depth.
The 2002 Boston College football team has been predicted by many to finish near the top of the Big East, earn their fourth consecutive bowl appearance, and continue their climb up the national rankings. To do this, the team will need a strong season from its defense. The consensus is that this will come from the performance of the defensive line, but the linebacker corps, led by emerging middle linebacker and future NFLer Vinny Ciurciu, will turn some heads.
Aaron Rose is an editor and staff writer for eagleinsider.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.