There’s a reason Boston College defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad grew up in Montreal a Baltimore Ravens fan.
First, he just couldn’t get into Canadian football.
“I don’t like the rules and how they play,” he said. “It’s just 1-2-3 punt. It’s more of a special-teams game.”
Second, his family came from a completely different part of the map, where hockey wasn’t coded in the cultural DNA.
His father, Montacer, moved to Montreal from Tunisia at the age of 16, and loved it enough to go back to Tunisia to find his wife, Siham, and bring her back to Canada with him.
Montacer had the athlete’s build that Mehdi inherited. He was 6 feet, 5 inches, 280 pounds. He swam and played handball in Tunisia.
He and Siham went to all of Mehdi’s games, even when Montacer’s health began to fail him.
“He was sick, had brain surgery, and he was coming to see my games no matter what,” Mehdi said.
Abdesmad’s father died four years ago, as Mehdi’s college potential was just emerging (Connecticut, Rutgers, Akron, and Baylor all showed interest), never getting the chance to see his son come to Boston College, where he’s contributed to the defensive line this season, making the second start of his career last week against Clemson.
Mehdi was a natural pass rusher in high school in Montreal, and the way he worshipped the NFL’s high-end defenses (plus a connection to former Eagles wideout Kevin Challenger, also a Montreal native), Boston College made sense.
“Boston College has always been known for defense,” Abdesmad said. “In past years, they were the best. That was one of my things, watching the defense, and at the time BC was one of the top rushing defenses, so that was good.”
Since arriving at the Heights he’s become more adept at stopping the run. He’s made six tackles this season, and recovered a fumble in the Eagles’ early-season win over Maine, throwing around the 6-6, 270-pound frame he got from his father, while his mother watches from the stands.
His father’s got an eye out, too, Mehdi said.
“He’s up there watching me now,” Abdesmad said. “So I know he’s proud.”
Amidon in spotlight
A month ago, Alex Amidon will admit, he was an unknown. He wasn’t on any awards lists, he didn’t show up on the national radar. But after catching eight passes for 193 yards against Clemson, the most receiving yards by a BC player since 1984, he was named ACC receiver of the week.
The honor came a week after he was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, and the sudden spotlight has caught the junior by surprise.
“It’s definitely weird to see,” Amidon said. “I don’t know how to describe it.”
Stepping in after veteran Bobby Swigert was injured in a preseason scrimmage, Amidon has thrived in first-year offensive coordinator Doug Martin’s new system, catching 33 passes for 559 yards and three touchdowns, and he’s become the primary target for quarterback Chase Rettig, who’s second in the conference in passing yards per game.
“We expected him to be a productive wideout,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “Certainly Doug has been a big part of showcasing him. Plus Chase’s efficiency, the combination of those things. He works so hard. He’s got some skill, and he works real hard. Coaches appreciate that, the quarterback appreciates that.”
With the additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Notre Dame, the Atlantic Coast Conference Wednesday released its future scheduling format, designed to reinforce several of the conference rivalries in major sports.
With the Notre Dame football team playing five games a year against ACC schools, the conference will continue to play an eight-game league schedule for 2013 and beyond. The Eagles have faced Notre Dame every season since 1992, save for 2005.
They’ve lost the last three and trail the all-time series, 12-9. The Irish will be off the schedule the next two years, with the Eagles playing Southern Cal home and away. The ND series will pick up again in 2015.
In men’s and women’s basketball, teams will play an 18-game conference schedule, each school facing a conference team at least once and two partner schools twice, both home and away. The other 14 conference games will consist of home-and-away sets with two rotating opponents, then five home-only opponents and five road-only opponents.
BC’s partner schools will be Notre Dame and Syracuse.
AD search continues
BC is searching for an athletic director, but the process of replacing Gene DeFilippo is a ways from being settled.
“The search is ongoing,” said spokesman Jack Dunn. “The decision has yet been made.”
The search, being led by VP of human resources Leo Sullivan, began when DeFilippo retired in August, with Wisconsin’s Sean Frazier and Brad Bates of Miami (Ohio) possibilities.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.