From the first day of training camp, when he rounded up the 23 freshmen he had helped bring to Boston College, defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Siravo shot straight with each of them.
They were third- and fourth-stringers. But things happen.
“We’re going to need you this season,” freshman defensive back Justin Simmons recalled Siravo as saying. “So prepare as if you were a first-string guy.”
The Eagles were dealt decimating injuries before the season, forcing the new faces to play sooner than they might have thought. But they’ve adapted quickly, and they left their fingerprints all over the Eagles’ first Atlantic Coast Conference win of the season, 20-17, over Maryland on Saturday.
David Dudeck got BC on the board on the first drive, catching a 20-yard pass from Chase Rettig, his first trip to the end zone. Simmons made seven tackles and snagged one of the Eagles’ three interceptions. Defensive lineman Kieran Borcich, a redshirt freshman, came up with another pick. Linebacker Tim Joy had three tackles (one for a loss).
“That’s been our mentality, all of the freshmen, since Day 1,” Dudeck said. “So today all we did was put what we’ve learned in practice and what we’ve been preparing for in the game.”
The freshman class makes up 22.5 percent of the Eagles’ roster, and nine of the 23 freshmen have seen action.
“Those guys have been contributors,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “We can’t say enough about them. They’ve been out there playing and practicing. Obviously, just by the definition of freshman, there are things they haven’t seen. They are working at it. They are football players and their future is bright. They can only get better and we can only get better.”
Giving and taking
Kevin Pierre-Louis made a game-high 10 tackles, but he also took the biggest hit of the afternoon, getting cracked by Terrapins running back Stefon Diggs, who launched himself trying to block for quarterback Caleb Rowe.
Pierre-Louis was visibly shaken, removing his helmet and kneeling on the turf after the hit. He came off the field and was monitored by trainers, but returned the next series.
“I didn’t get a clean view of it,” said linebacker Nick Clancy. “I just heard it. Kevin’s a tough kid, he’s definitely a hard-nosed guy, and he wants to be in there. Even though trainers might say, ‘Take a couple plays off,’ he’s the first guy to say, ‘No, I want to get back in there.’ ”
Diggs was issued a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
“I think with the concussions and the way it’s going, I think it’s good for football,” Spaziani said.
Spurred by talk
Spiffy Evans had a big day in the return game (109 yards on punts, 64 on kickoffs) and said he was fueled by some trash talk from Maryland punter Nathan Renfro, who came into the game averaging 40 yards per punt. “He was talking junk all week,” Evans said . . . The Eagles wore star-spangled uniforms for Under Armour’s Wounded Warrior Project, which provides relief for injured military members and their families. “I told our guys afterwards, we were the Wounded Eagle Warriors,” Spaziani said. “I think it’s a great thing that Under Armour and college football has done and we probably should be doing more. There are some great people out there and we’re thankful to them.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.