Boston College All-America linebacker Luke Kuechly announced yesterday he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, where he is projected as a high first-round pick.
“It was a really tough decision,’’ Kuechly said last night from his home in Ohio. “I have a plan and I have to make a couple of calls and do some things. This is the first step in the process.’’
Coach Frank Spaziani seemed resigned to losing his top player.
“The contributions that Luke made to Boston College can’t be measured,’’ said Spaziani. “His value to this team also can’t be measured. But he did leave me with one thing, he left me the secret to his success, and now I can pass it on to the rest of the guys.’’
With the NFL combine at the end of next month, Kuechly will put his education (he is two semesters short of his degree) on hold.
“I have to do my best to prepare for whatever is thrown at me,’’ he said. “I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL. I’ll do what I can control.’’
Kuechly’s list of honors this season far surpassed the accomplishments of the Eagles, who finished 4-8, their worst season since 1998. In addition to being a consensus All-American for the second consecutive season, Kuechly again led the country in tackles (191), setting a school record with 532 for his career.
Kuechly also won the Butkus (top linebacker) and Nagurski (top defensive player) Awards, and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The revamping of Spaziani’s staff, which began last month with the hiring of Doug Martin as offensive coordinator, continued yesterday when it was announced that Jim Bollman will be the Eagles’ offensive line coach.
“As a former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program,’’ said Spaziani.
With the arrival of Bollman, Sean Devine, the offensive line coach last season, was shifted to tight ends coach.
That job had been held by Dave Brock, who moved to offensive coordinator when Kevin Rogers took a medical leave last September. Whether Brock will return remains uncertain, but the Eagles indicated that more changes will be coming in the next several days.
Bollman, who had been at Ohio State since 2001, has 31 years of coaching experience, including stints at Miami of Ohio, North Carolina State, Youngstown State, Virginia, Michigan State, and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears.
“We’ve been talking awhile,’’ said Bollman. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ve never lived in the East, but I know about the tradition [of offensive linemen] at Boston College and am looking forward to it. This is not the first time I’ve done this and I know BC has good kids. I’m ready for the challenge.’’