The top 10 Boston College football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
LB Matt Milano, Sr.
Milano has so far been a worthy successor to Kevin Pierre-Louis and Josh Keyes, hybrid strongside linebackers on the Heights, with a license to freelance all over the field. Milano, who’s just 6-1 and 218 pounds, flourished in his diverse role. He made 60 tackles, but he also led the Eagles with 17.5 stops for loss and 6.5 sacks. Milano was named honorable mention All-ACC and could elevate even higher in the league pecking order this fall.
DE Harold Landry, Jr.
Landry sort of came out of nowhere last season to bloom into one of the better ACC pass rushers, even though he wasn’t honored as such in December. He exploded out of the gate, schooling Florida State for 4.5 stops for loss in Week 3. Landry slowed down in the second half, yet finished with 60 tackles, 15.5 stops for loss, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s an explosive 6-3, 245-pounder who gets around the edge in a hurry.
LB Connor Strachan, Jr.
Players with Strachan’s toughness and physicality will always have a shot to succeed at a place like Boston College. He’s a good fit to handle middle linebacker, especially now that Steven Daniels is beginning his NFL career. Strachan has good size and strength at 6-2 and 230 pounds, and he was No. 2 on the team with 75 tackles, including 12.5 for loss, despite playing far fewer snaps than the other linebackers.
RB Jon Hilliman, Soph.
Any chance of an encore performance in 2015 ended in Week 4 with a season-ending fractured foot. Still, Hilliman is on his way back following a long rehabilitation process. As a rookie in 2014, he was exactly what Steve Addazio needed in a successor to Andre Williams. Hilliman stepped into the forefront to rush for a team-high 860 yards and 13 touchdowns on 210 carries. He’s an assertive 6-0, 224-pound thumper, with enough quickness to be sprung into daylight.
QB Patrick Towles, Sr.
He was supposed to be the leader and star for Kentucky over a big start to his career throwing for close to 5,100 yards. So what went wrong? He couldn’t stop throwing interceptions last season, giving away 14 with just nine touchdowns. However, he’s a very big, very mobile playmaker who ran for five scores after rumbling for six the year before. The former Kentucky Mr. Football has 6-5, 240-pound size and a big arm, but he still has to beat out Darius Wade for the job – and he can’t start throwing picks.
DT Truman Gutapfel, Sr.
Gutapfel is the kind of interior lineman who’ll never be adequately measured by his numbers, including stats or personal measurables. He’s only 6-3 and 281 pounds, and last year’s 26 tackles, 7.5 stops for loss and two sacks don’t pop off a stat sheet. But Gutapfel is an effective run stuffer whose strength and motor will continue to bolster the Eagle run D.
SS John Johnson, Sr.
Without much buzz or accolades, Johnson delivered a solid year for the BC secondary. His strength is the breadth of his skill set, hitting like a strong safety and covering like a corner. The 6-0, 198-pound Johnson performed well in all phases as a junior, picking up 63 tackles, three picks and two forced fumbles. He’s the new headliner of the DBs now that Justin Simmons has graduated.
QB Darius Wade, Jr.
The offense desperately needed a big year out of Wade in 2015. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through three games before being lost for the season to a broken left ankle. In the 6-0, 204-pound Wade, Boston College has a dual-threat southpaw that can make defenses respect his feet as well as his quick delivery. The incumbent, though, could be displaced—here and on the depth chart—by Kentucky graduate transfer Patrick Towles. The 6-5, 238-pound Towles was erratic in Lexington, but has the arm strength to be a good fit in the new pro-style offense.
DE Kevin Kavalec, Sr.
Kavalec is an overachiever, the kind of Eagle who’s always scrapping to the whistle. In other words, he’s a Steve Addazio guy. Kavalec has been in and out of the lineup the last two seasons, providing pressure in spurts. The 6-2, 253-pound Ohioan was overshadowed in 2015 by Harold Landry and Mehdi Abdesmad, though did chip in with eight tackles for loss to rank seventh on the D.
CB Kamrin Moore, Jr.
Moore was enjoying a breakout season in 2015, when a lower leg injury shelved him after eight games. It was a tough blow for the young cornerback as well as the secondary that was benefitting from his maturation. Moore is a physical, 5-11, 192-pound press cover guy who’ll outmuscle receivers for the ball. Last season’s numbers, 25 stops and four pass breakups, don’t do justice to his potential in coverage.