While college football toiled this summer over the question of whether the sport would be safe enough to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, defensive lineman Luc Bequette found himself stuck in limbo.
When rumblings started to surface that the Pac-12 might be among the conferences unwilling to play this fall, Bequette had to consider whether he wanted to stay at Cal and risk missing an entire season or if he wanted to explore other options.
“You’re hearing all these things that the Pac-12′s going to cancel the season, but then you’re still kind of holding out hope and the coaches are also trying to hold out hope,” Bequette said.
Bequette had started 38 straight games over the past three seasons. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility after losing all but four games of his redshirt freshman season because of an ACL injury. He never imagined the possibility of not being able to play it out.
“For me, personally, I was going to play this season no matter what — if it was in the Pac-12 or any other conferences playing,” he said.
‘“It felt, in every aspect, [like] the Cal of the East Coast. ... The coaching staff, the players all seemed likable and a very close-knit unit.”’
Luc Bequette on Boston College
His father was the one who initially urged him to start considering options.
“He was telling me I needed to start transferring immediately before I got all the information,” he said. “I am a pretty loyal guy, so I was going to wait until I got the official notice that the season was canceled before I was going to look anywhere else.”
He entered the transfer portal in August and found a fit at Boston College.
“It felt, in every aspect, [like] the Cal of the East Coast,” Bequette said. “The coaching staff, the players all seemed likable and a very close-knit unit.”
Bequette arrived in Chestnut Hill at the beginning of the month with just two weeks to quarantine and prepare for the Eagles season opener on Saturday at Duke. With goals of reaching the NFL, he treated the process as if he were a free agent thrown into a new environment midseason.
“It’s a little bit hectic,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, my goal is to play at the next level and, often times, the next level guys are getting traded, moved around, moved to new places a week before the game and they’re expected to learn the playbook and get back in the swing of things quickly. For me, I think this is good practice in that regard.”
Bequette is already listed on the Eagles' depth chart as the starting defensive tackle, impressing head coach Jeff Hafley in a short time.
“He’s doing well,” Hafley said. “He hasn’t been here for very long, so he’s working to learn everything that we’re doing. But what a great kid. Mature, practices like a pro. Big kid, strong kid. just very grateful that we’ve got him on the team.”
Bequette said he expected himself to get acclimated quickly.
“Obviously, I need to come here and re-prove myself to a new team, but I wasn’t going anywhere to not play,” he said. “So for me, my personal goals, I don’t really expect anything less. I still need to continue to prove myself in these next few practices and prove that I understand the playbook and prove that only having two weeks of practice is sufficient enough to play in this next game.”
Tested in many ways
While concerns have grown after an COVID-19 outbreak at the Heights that saw 104 people test positive — including 30 of 750 varsity athletes — Hafley emphasized his confidence that BC was doing everything to keep students safe, while acknowledging the fragility of returning amid a pandemic.
“It’s always on your mind,” Hafley said. “I personally think I know BC’s done a great job. I’m not just talking about football. You look at the facts and you look at the tests and you don’t just read what you read, from Father Leahy on down, BC’s done a great job. That’s the truth and everybody needs to understand that.”
Since having one player test positive in June when the team returned for voluntary workouts, the football team has had no positive results. Meanwhile, 13 members of the men’s swimming and diving team tested positive last week.
“It’s been this way since we first tested on June 22,” he said. "And every time we get those all negative, all negative, all negative, I get fired up like it’s Christmas again.
“That’s just how it is, right? Because you never know. You have to have great leadership on your staff, great leadership on your football team and we have that. We’re just hopeful our guys keep doing what they have to do and keep going forward.”
Time left for snap judgments
The annual tradition of playing unnecessarily coy about who will be starting at quarterback has begun.
Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec is at the top of the depth chart, but the “or” next to his name left open the possibility that last year’s starter, Dennis Grosel, could still win the job.
“Right now it’s ‘or,’ ” Hafley said. “So that means they both could be starting.”
While it’s presumed Jurkovec will start, the “or” is a symbol, if anything, that there’s still competition for spots. Currently, 11 positions have “or” dangling next to them.
“There’s a couple [listed with an ‘or’] and that’s just how we feel right now,” Hafley said. “Not just with the quarterback position. Truthfully, I want to build this thing on the competition. The reason I did that is I believe competition brings out people’s best.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.