Bobby Wolford was a first-team Class 5A linebacker in Jacksonville, Fla., a 6-foot-2-inch, 233-pound tackling machine who piled up 122 stops as a senior at Bishop Kenny High in 2011.
As a freshman at Boston College last fall, he was an observer, as a redshirt. He worked with the defense in spring drills. But in preseason camp, he was asked to shift to the other side of the ball.
“Coach [Steve] Addazio has been around the game for a long time and he knows what’s best,” said Wolford, who had five touchdown receptions his final high school season as a tight end. “I give credit to him for making the change for me.”
Working out of the backfield Saturday, Wolford (six catches, 84 yards) was a major factor in BC’s 24-14 season-opening victory over Villanova.
The first catch of his career was a touchdown, a 1-yard toss from Chase Rettig off play-action to tie the game at 7 with 7:08 left in the first quarter. On BC’s second scoring drive to open the second half, his second catch was good for 11 yards to the BC 47. Two plays later, Rettig hit Alex Amidon with a 49-yard strike for six.
Later in the quarter, he gathered in a short loft over the middle, headed for the right sideline, and galloped 34 yards to the Villanova 26. On the next play, Andre Williams put the Eagles on top for good, 21-14, with a 26-yard run.
“[Wolford] was a great camp surprise for us,” said Addazio, noting that the there was a need at the position with senior H-back Jake Sinkovec sidelined.
With Williams (23 carries, 114 yards) getting the ball so much, Wolford was able to get free on play-action.
“He’s a heavy run-set guy for us, and he was able to get open,’’ said the coach. “They had nine guys in the box at times [to stop the run]. We had to take advantage of that. We knew from Day 1 that [fullback] was his natural position.
With Villanova often stacking the box, senior receiver Alex Amidon often found himself in man coverage. The Greenfield, Mass., product capitalized (13 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD), tying Rich Gunnell with his eighth 100-yard receiving game.
“He is our playmaker out on the flank, trying to be as creative as we can to get him the ball,” said Addazio.
Amidon, who also had a 22-yard TD reception called back in the fourth quarter on a block below the waist, said offensive coordinator Ryan Day “puts us in the right places.”
Williams, the Eagles’ bread-and-butter back, sat in the fourth quarter.
“Andre had a little bit of hamstring strain — is it dehydration? I don’t know yet,” said Addazio. “We wanted to be real careful there. We did not want to make the situation worse, so we felt like we could hang in there.”
His absence allowed freshman Tyler Rouse (8 carries, 14 yards) to get touches in the fourth quarter.
“He has ability and speed,” said Addazio. “Hopefully, Andre will be fine. We have a short week [before Wake Forest visits on Friday night]. It worries me on every front, but that’s life.”
Albert Louis-Jean, a sophomore cornerback out of Brockton High, is expected back for Friday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener after sitting out the opener for a violation of team rules. Louis-Jean played as a true freshman, but was sidelined last season with a broken foot.
In a new routine, the Eagles players celebrated Mass at Gasson Hall, with Jack Butler and Tony Pena officiating, then in a modified Eagle Walk, proceeded down the Higgins Stairs to Alumni Stadium for their pregame routine . . . T.J. Fitzpatrick, a linebacker who closed out his playing career at BC (1981-82) after starting it at Villanova was at the game. Fitzpatrick and his wife, Suzanne, have endowed a scholarship at BC for graduate students in financial need, named in honor of associate athletic director Barry Gallup, an assistant with the Eagles when Fitzpatrick was a player.
Craig Larson can be reached at email@example.com.