At the beginning of preseason camp, Boston College football coach Steve Addazio characterized the outlook at wide receiver as “murky,’’ at best.
While sophomores Sherman Alston and Charlie Callinan are the top returning receivers — with a combined 29 catches for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns last season — seniors David Dudeck and Bobby Swigert are the ranking members of the group.
Dudeck last season made 13 catches for 148 yards and 1 touchdown (45 catches, 387 yards, 3 TDs for his career), while Swigert has made 106 catches for 1,262 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first three seasons, but none since 2012 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Notre Dame.
Addazio, as a result, had no clear-cut picture of the group as it headed into the 2015 campaign, which begins with a Sept. 5 home game against Maine.
Last Saturday, in the team’s first scrimmage, freshman Ben Glines made an impression on the coach as a sure-handed, possession-type receiver capable of running crisp routes and making all manner of catches.
“They were big-time catches,’’ said sophomore running back Marcus Outlow.
“I just wanted to get open and play my game and use my size a little bit to my advantage,’’ said Glines, a 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pounder who was signed as an “athlete’’ out of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Glines rushed for 1,224 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, while adding 274 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“The quarterbacks played great and I was really pleased with the scrimmage,’’ Glines said. “But there’s a lot of stuff I need to work on, and I plan on improving upon that in this week’s scrimmage.’’
But Glines didn’t seem to leave himself much room for improvement, making every grab imaginable in his first college scrimmage, hauling in six catches, with each going for a first down.
“He’s a hard worker and comes from a good high school program,’’ Addazio said of a program that also produced former BC players Alex Albright and Luke Kuechly and current starting linebacker Steven Daniels. “I mean, he’s a young guy and he’s working hard and we can see that he’s got a lot of top-end talent.
“But he’s still a freshman.’’
So far, though, Glines has stood out among a group of freshman receivers that includes Nolan Borgersen, Chris Garrison, and Chase Pankey.
During Tuesday morning’s steamy practice at Shea Field, Glines made an outstanding over-the-shoulder grab of Jeff Smith’s deep pass, beating Gabriel McClary’s coverage for a touchdown during 11-on-11 drills.
“We had a little better day today,’’ Addazio said of the receivers. “Thaddeus Smith made some plays. Ben made a couple of plays. We’ve got to get these receivers to make some plays. Go make big catches.’’
Glines signed his letter of intent in February while playing with the US Under-19 national team that defeated Canada, 35-0, in the International Bowl in Dallas.
“He’s a football player,’’ Addazio said. “That’s what he is. I could line him up at tailback and he’d probably be pretty darn good right there, because that’s what he played in high school. You could put him at safety. He’s just a football player.
“Those guys usually are guys who end up being good players.’’
A versatile talent in high school, Glines knew BC was recruiting him as an “athlete,” a designation that meant he could wind up playing at any skilled position.
“My sophomore year in high school, I started at slot receiver and then moved over to running back later in the year,’’ Glines said. “But I knew Boston College recruited me as an athlete and they would want me to move around and put me somewhere where I’m not necessarily used to being. So I had to get my mind right to come in here and be able to do that.’’
The rigors of camp proved eye-opening for Glines, who initially struggled with the pace and intensity of play, but his athleticism allowed him to catch up.
When asked about his first-year aspirations, Glines said, “I’d just like to come in here and get on the field. I just think any freshman coming into any college team, I think your expectations are to come in and play and make a difference.
“I’m not trying to come in here and do anything that’s over the top or anything. I just want to help us win games. That’s the bottom line. If I can get out there and catch a few balls, and we can get a ‘W,’ then I’m fine with that.’’
After making such a positive impression in his first scrimmage, Glines was asked what he planned to do for an encore Saturday morning.
“I definitely don’t want to regress from what I did this past Saturday, so I want to make sure I’m catching a lot of balls and running crisp routes,’’ he said. “I would love to be able to score. That’s the goal on any play. So if I can get in the end zone, I’ll take it.”
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.