C.J. Parsons somberly trudged off the field at Alumni Stadium after last Saturday’s 48-34 loss to eighth-ranked Florida State. Like so many of his teammates, Parsons could not claim much joy in the gritty effort he submitted in the clash between ACC Atlantic Division opponents, even though he scored the first and last touchdowns of the game.
“Yeah, it was bittersweet,’’ said Parsons, who scored the first two touchdowns of his BC career on catches of 6 and 17 yards from Chase Rettig. “Obviously, personally, it was a good feeling to be able to get into the end zone during the game, but I think any competitor would’ve traded those touchdowns for a win.
“That’s how I felt walking off.’’
Parsons’s contribution against the Seminoles (2 catches, 23 yards, 2 TDs) proved a seminal moment for the strapping 6-foot-6-inch, 253-pound junior tight end from West Newton. Parsons’s path to pay dirt at The Heights was a journey that began with a stop at Northeastern, where the former Xaverian standout started his college career as a defensive lineman.
“The program there was shut down my redshirt year [in 2009-10],’’ said Parsons, who recalled how the team learned of the school’s decision to shutter the program only minutes after former NU coach Rocky Hager was blindsided by the news.
“He didn’t get to address us himself, the athletic director did,’’ Parsons said of Hager. “I mean, that was tough. We didn’t expect that at all.’’
While the rest of his former NU teammates scattered to all four points on the compass, Parsons seemed to land on his feet with the Eagles.
“Oh, absolutely,’’ Parsons said. “It was a great opportunity for me, to go from Northeastern to BC. It was a dream for me growing up. I was always watching BC, so I couldn’t be happier being here.’’
When he transferred to BC from Northeastern in 2010, Parsons redshirted, and he did not see any game action in 2011, during which he worked on BC’s scout squad. The following year, Parsons went over to the dark side, converting from defensive end to tight end, after the Eagles were forced to maneuver some of their personnel following an injury to Chris Pantale, a four-year starter at tight end who went down with a foot injury in the preseason and missed the first five games.
“I was given the opportunity to play last season and was given some good time,’’ said Parsons, who made seven receptions for 34 yards, including a long gain of 7 yards, in 12 games last season.
Was it a jarring transition to make, going from defensive end to tight end?
“No, actually, I played some tight end when I was in high school,’’ said Parsons, who played for coach Charlie Stevenson at Xaverian, where he earned All-Catholic Conference honors and selection to the 2008 Super 26 All-State team by the Massachusetts Football Coaches Association.
“I had some experience there, so it wasn’t too bad,’’ Parsons said. “Coach [Dave] Brock was great. He was the tight ends coach at the time. All the guys at the tight end position were really helpful, so it wasn’t too bad. I felt like I belonged at tight end.’’
Parsons’s transition to tight end proved more jarring for the former defensive teammates he was now going against in practice.
“C.J. is a beast,’’ said senior defensive end Kasim Edebali. “Once he moved to tight end, I never realized he was that physical. I was like ‘Oh my God, this is not going to be fun.’ I make sure I get in a really low stance when C.J. is in front of me.’’
As bittersweet as it was, Parsons’s performance against Florida State was a breakthrough. After all, both of his catches against the Seminoles went for touchdowns.
“I was so excited for him when he scored those two TDs,’’ Edebali said of Parsons. “He came here, worked hard, got a scholarship, and now he’s producing on the field. It’s always good to see people who work that hard finally cash in.’’
Parsons’s first TD catch, a 6-yard throwback from Rettig, gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead. It was the first time he had visited the end zone since his senior year in high school. It was so long ago Parsons could not recall exactly the opponent he scored against.
The second TD, a 17-yarder on another throwback from Rettig, provided the final margin, 48-34, and marked the most points BC had scored against Florida State.
“We’re a heavy run offense, so I’m almost like a sixth O-lineman and I’m happy with that,’’ said Parsons, who will attempt to duplicate his effort when the Eagles host Army in a nonconference game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Stadium. “But it definitely felt nice to get into the end zone.’’
The only thing that would’ve been nicer, Parsons said, is if his contributions wound up being part of a victory.
“It was a great feeling during the game, but it was obviously bittersweet,’’ Parsons said. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win. But we have a game plan every week and I just do what the coaches ask of me. I love blocking, but when I’m asked to run a route, I’m going to run it hard. And when I’m given the opportunity to make a play, I’m going to give it my all to do that.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.