Spring Outlook: Boston College

The Eagles lose Kiwanuka and Blackmon but return quarterback Matt Ryan and a host of talented tailbacks.

School: Boston College
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Enrollment: 14,500
Stadium: Alumni
Capacity: 44,500
2006 Scout.com Recruiting Ranking: 44 (ACC: 9th)
Spring Practice Starts: March 29
Spring Game: April 22

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: The heart of recruiting season was a breeze for the Eagles. Before the regular season, BC had secured oral commitments from 17 players. The Eagles had to recruit only three more to fit the maximum allotment for their recruiting class.

"You have to give our assistant coaches a lot of credit," said BC coach Tom O'Brien. "We identified a lot of kids early last year and went after a lot, and actually got a lot of kids committed, especially the local kids."

The Eagles landed 10 players from New England, seven of those from Massachusetts.

"We haven't had a class of this size from local talent since my first year here," O'Brien said. "It's a combination of identifying those kids, having the kids coming to camp year in and year out, knowing who they are, then staying with them."

After one season in the rapidly improved ACC, the Eagles knew they had to get more speed, more size and more athleticism for their depth chart.

"We think we've upgraded ourselves," O'Brien said. "Also, there's size in the class and not just in your ordinary line spots where you think of size. A lot of the skill kids, the receivers and secondary kids, are taller kids."

O'Brien believes several freshmen have a chance to contribute next fall. He has seen how being in the ACC, with its massive television package, has helped the Eagles stretch their recruiting profile.

"I do a lot of those radio shows across the country, and I was doing one out of Phoenix and another out of Denver earlier this year," O'Brien said. "Both shows knew all about us because they'd seen us on television and they could talk about this guy making that play and all that."

TOP RECRUITS: OL Richard Lapham, Amherst N.H. -- He is rated the second-best player in New England and the 22nd-best prospect at his position by one recruiting service. As a first-team all-state player, Lapham helped his team to state titles in '03 and '04.

QB Billy Flutie, Natick, Mass. -- If the last name seems familiar, it is. He's the nephew of Doug Flutie. He was rated a Top 20 player in New England by recruiting services.

DB Chris Fox, Westwood, Mass. -- He's the son of former New England Patriots safety Tim Fox. One recruiting service, SuperPrep, ranked him as the 2nd-best prospect in New England and the 10th-best skilled athlete in the country. He was the Boston Globe Division 1 Player of the Year.

GLANCE AT 2006: BC coach Tom O'Brien is steamed at the 2006 ACC schedule, which has the Eagles playing a televised game Thanksgiving Day at Miami. It will be five days after both teams play a previous game.

"I don't think it's fair to either football team," O'Brien told Boston reporters at a signing-day news conference. "I think they have to play at Virginia and then travel home and we have to play here against Maryland, so we're both playing key ACC games and go and play 3-4 days later.

"It's always been tougher for us to go down south and play in November because of the change in the weather. We'll see how good the ACC is if they send Florida State and Miami back here next year in November to make it right, but I'm not going to hold my breath."

* Sophomore QB Matt Ryan will lead the charge for next season.

"He competes and he is just going to keep getting better and better, because it's very important to him," coach Tom O'Brien said. "He works very hard in the film room. He's got two more years, and I can see him getting better every game and every year."

Ryan will be joined by returning cast that includes offensive linemen Josh Beekman, Gosder Cherilus and Jim Marten, defensive backs Ryan Glasper, Jamie Silva and DeJuan Tribble, receivers Tony Gonzalez and Kevin Challenger, and defensive linemen Nick Larkin and B.J. Raji.

Still, this is a rebuilding year because of the defensive losses, headlined by DE Mathias Kiwanuka and newcomers on the offensive line. The Eagles, however, will also have to deal with playing Florida State on the road next season, along with the Thanksgiving trip to Miami. Oh yeah, they also have Virginia and N.C. State.

* The Eagles are scrambling for a game Aug. 31 after Ohio University backed out of a scheduled home game with the Eagles. The likely solution may be for BC to play a home game against Central Michigan.

* O'Brien disclosed five players who had a final year of eligibility -- QB Karim El Nokali, DE Jake Ottolini, DT Robert Ziminski, WR Jason Lilly and DE Jeff Burns -- have decided not to return.

SPRING QUESTIONS: Boston College lost a good number of highly-skilled players on both sides of the ball ... but especially on the offensive and defensive lines and also at wide receiver. Who will step up?

QUOTE TO NOTE: "What stands out to us is that there's speed in this class, not only at the normal skill positions, but there's speed at all positions." -- Boston College coach Tom O'Brien on the best attribute of his recruiting class.

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