His family name forever bronzed in immortality at Boston College, freshman quarterback Troy Flutie knows the weighty responsibility he bears as the son of Darren Flutie and nephew of Doug Flutie.
He is reminded of it daily when he walks past the north entrance of Alumni Stadium and sees the statue of his famous uncle, rearing back, and letting fly his famous Hail Mary heave to Gerard Phelan.
He is reminded of it every time he passes through the foyer of the Yawkey Athletic Center and glances at the glass-enclosed trophy case, where on display is the Heisman Trophy his uncle won in 1984.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure,’’ Troy Flutie said Tuesday after wrapping up his second day of BC’s preseason camp at Shea Field. “You walk in every day and you see the Heisman on your right and you’re walking in from your dorm and you see the statue, so it’s a lot of pressure on you.
“It’s like a huge symbol. There’s a lot of pressure because of your last name and all of that, but I’m used to it. I’ve been dealing with it ever since I was born in Natick, so it’s just another thing, it’s just more motivation.’’
Nothing has quite captured the fancy, or whipped a fickle BC fandom into a frenzy, than the sight of Doug Flutie weaving his magic at quarterback. Although Troy will become the fourth member of his famous football family to don BC’s Maroon and Gold, joining his father and his cousin Billy, both receivers, he will become the first since his uncle to have a legitimate chance to play quarterback after he finished his glittering high school career at Natick by throwing for 9,014 career yards and a state-record 112 touchdown passes.
“We thought he was an athlete,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio, when asked what he saw in the 6-foot, 182-pound Flutie during his recruitment. “But we felt like he’d be able to be a quarterback.
“What you see is that he found a way to win. He made a bunch of throws, threw a lot of balls, but found a way to win by making plays and having fun. He’s got that deal about him, that leadership and ‘it’ factor going for him.’’
Troy seemed to fit the profile of the type of dual-threat quarterback Addazio hoped to recruit to BC, where Doug Flutie set the gold standard for such-type passers.
“Back in the day, Doug was a guy who could beat you with his feet, beat you with his arm, make you miss and do everything else,’’ Addazio said. “So he got that whole dual-threat thing going, the undersized quarterback who can move, it’s taken on a life of its own in college football, for sure.”
Although Florida transfer Tyler Murphy was named BC’s starting quarterback for the Aug. 30 opener against UMass at Gillette Stadium, Flutie will likely contend for playing time as a backup with fellow incoming freshman Darius Wade, who seemed to gain a leg up in the competition as a mid-year enrollee in January. The sudden departure of redshirt freshman James Walsh, a 6-1, 201-pounder from Dublin, Ohio, could present Flutie with an added opportunity for more reps in practice.
“He’s a typical freshman quarterback,’’ Addazio said of Flutie. “Darius has been here since the winter and Troy just got here so he’s got a lot of work to do and he knows it. So much hits you at one time, it’s almost impossible. The [offensive] line and quarterback positions are really tough to come in here and function quickly, so he’ll have to work through it.’’
So what’s been Flutie’s biggest challenge to date?
“Definitely, all the plays,’’ Flutie said. “Learning all the plays, learning the reads on the plays and what to do. The throws, they’re not that hard; they’re all the same. But it’s definitely learning the plays, picking up everything mentally and taking that next step forward and getting used to college speed, that’s the toughest right now.’’
But Flutie says he’s been through this before, when he was a freshman quarterback at Natick High.
“I remember the beginning of my high school career, it was tough,’’ he said. “It was kind of like this, learning the plays, learning everything, learning the reads. After high school, I’m a lot more confident as a player, a lot more confident in my ability and a lot smarter as a football player, so I feel I should pick it up a lot quicker.’’
When he does, that’s when he hopes to be able to weave a little Flutie magic of his own.
“I’m just working my hardest to learn the plays and everything,’’ Flutie said. “I’m just trying to get back on track where I was in high school and do what I did then and be able to play the way I know how to play, after I learn the plays.’’
Until then, Addazio knows where Flutie (who wears No. 16) will rank on the depth chart.
“Right now, he’s a buried freshman,’’ Addazio said with a chuckle. “Right now he’s just trying to swim like crazy, trying to keep his head above water just like any freshman, it’s natural. Until they get themselves settled in mentally, they can’t go back and be who they are.
“It’s an acclimation period.’’
Even his famous uncle, who projected as a defensive back when he arrived at BC, went through it. But that was before he went on to make a name in the game Troy Flutie hopes one day to uphold.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.