At the end of the 2012 season, Boston College football was coming off of a 2-10 campaign, the second worst in school history. With wins against only the Maine Black Bears and the Maryland Terrapins, most analysts had BC rated amongst the worst programs in the country. The program’s performance led Athletic Director Brad Bates to dismiss four-year head coach Frank Spaziani, whose disappointing reign at the helm of BC football mercifully came to its end.
Just a couple of weeks later, it was announced that Steve Addazio would be leaving his head coaching job at Temple University to take over at BC. In his introductory speech, he preached the virtues of family, which would be a recurring theme within the football team. He urged his players to play for each other and for the Boston College nation. He spoke of how he wanted to use a balanced offense, an aggressive defense and disciplined special teams to bring championships to BC. His enthusiasm for the future breathed new life into the program.
Addazio’s enthusiasm began paying dividends with the start of recruiting season. On Feb. 19, Addazio picked up his first recruit in Marcus Outlow, a three-star running back and the No. 1 recruit from Addazio’s native Connecticut. By the beginning of the regular season, Addazio’s first recruiting class stood at 22 verbal commitments including defensive end Harold Landry, quarterback Darius Wade, Massachusetts’ own Connor Strachan and BC legend Doug Flutie’s nephew Troy Flutie.
With week one and week two victories against Villanova and Wake Forest, respectively, Boston College got off to its first 2-0 start since 2010. Perhaps though, what was most significant about this start was the emergence of running back Andre Williams. The game against Wake Forest was Williams’ first game with over 200 rushing yards, most of which came in the fourth quarter when Wake Forest knew that Boston College would try to run the clock and close out the game. This performance by Williams would serve as a precursor of what would be to come.
After a disappointing loss to the USC Trojans in the Coliseum, BC came upon its biggest challenge of the year in week four against the eventual No. 1 team in the nation, the Florida State Seminoles. After jumping out to a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, the Boston College defense could no longer contain the FSU offense which, led by redshirt freshman and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, picked apart the Boston College secondary en route to a 48-34 win. However, Boston College would remain the only team to score more than 18 points against the Seminoles in the regular season.
Then, after a 48-27 win against the Army Black Knights in which Andre Williams scored five touchdowns and rushed for 263 yards, the Eagles once again faced off against a top 10 team in then-No. 3 Clemson. The Eagles defense again performed admirably, holding Tajh Boyd and the Tigers to 10 points going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, a costly fumble by quarterback Chase Rettig was run back for a touchdown that sealed another defeat for the Eagles when it had appeared that BC could possibly pull off the dramatic upset.
After another loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels at Chapel Hill, the Eagles came back home to play the Virginia Tech Hokies at Alumni Stadium. The Eagles won this game 34-27 to start what would end up being a four-game winning streak over the Hokies, the New Mexico State Aggies, the NC State Wolfpack and the Maryland Terrapins. Much of the success for these four games was due to the tremendous play of Andre Williams. In these four games, Williams averaged 265.75 yards per game, 2 touchdowns per game, and over 7.7 yards per rush.
BC’s signature win among these performances was the game against the North Carolina State University Wolfpack. After the game, students rushed the field as they recognized the significance of the victory. This win served as BC’s sixth win, guaranteeing a .500 season and more importantly, a berth in a postseason bowl game.
It was also during this game that BC’s kicker/punter Nate Freese became the school’s all-time scoring leader with 324 points for his career. Freese would finish the year 20 for 20 on field goal attempts, the only kicker in college football to finish perfect in field goal attempts on the season.
Finally, it was in this game that Williams rushed 42 times for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns, securing both the BC school rushing records for yards in a single game and for yards in a single season, as well as the ACC records for the same categories. This performance catapulted Andre Williams into the conversation for the Heisman Trophy award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding player in college football.
The #Andre44Heisman campaign brought a new enthusiasm to the school as the Boston College Athletics program began a massive marketing campaign to garner support for the running back. Williams was suddenly the underdog candidate who, as well as performing well on the field, perfectly modeled the Boston College motto, Ever to Excel. With a 3.0 GPA and a novel in the works, Williams exemplified the term student-athlete. Brad Bates and Boston College Athletics gave out shirts to the school’s current and former NFL players that bore the hashtag and even got Williams to go through the car wash at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
Williams placed fourth overall in Heisman voting. But his performance on the field this season was not overlooked. He won the Doak Walker award, which is presented to the best running back in college football. He was also unanimously selected as a first team All-American. And SuperFans will be able to see him run one last time in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26.
As for the team, the season drew to a close for BC’s football program on Tuesday, Dec. 31 as the Eagles lost 42-19 to the Arizona Wildcats in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl to finish the year with a 7-6 record. However, despite the disappointing loss, the 2013 campaign displayed a team that underwent marked improvement from just a season ago, and the future of the program remains bright.
For the first time since 2009, Boston College is projected to have more than one player drafted in the NFL. The success of Andre Williams and the BC football program has attracted a lot of high school talent to look at the Heights as a suitable landing spot. ESPN 300 recruit and New Jersey running back Jonathan Hilliman recently decommitted from Rutgers University to join the Eagles next year and Coach Addazio has already picked up a commit for the 2015 class.
Rejoice Eagles fans, happy days are here again.
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