The Boston College football program lost a major battle in the ever-raging recruitment war. Again.
Making matters worse, this year’s blow sounds all too familiar. In fact, he called himself an Eagle for nearly a month. The name of the annual Why-BC-Football-Isn’t-Ranked-Yet Award goes to: Danny Dalton.
In a recent Boston Globe article, reporter Julian Benbow chronicled the meteoric rise of Marshfield High School tight end Danny Dalton from no-name prospect to four-star recruit. Dalton led his high school team to the 2014 Massachusetts Division II Super Bowl title, but didn't turn scouts’ heads until attending the US Army National Combine in San Antonio this past January.
At the time, BC scouts saw a kid with the six-foot-five, 230-pound frame of a linebacker who caught nearly every ball thrown his way. To preface this, one must understand that elite football talent seldom develops in the Northeast. As a result, the decision felt like a no-brainer for the Eagles. Upon reviewing his combine tapes, the program offered Dalton a scholarship in February.
The good news: BC stumbled upon treasure in their barren backyard. The school landed a true four-star recruit from New England, a player whose physical appearance resembled that of Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The bad news: word spreads quickly this day and age. By the time March arrived, keeping that treasure safe from robbers proved too tall of a task for Addazio and Co.
Before the snow in Marshfield melted, Dalton received offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, North Carolina and seven other Division I programs. All of a sudden, the homegrown hero had 11 new reasons to reconsider his commitment to the Heights.
Today, Danny Dalton laces up his cleats no longer a future-Eagle. Instead, he plans to play football in Happy Valley, PA, during the fall of 2016. Penn State once again stole a victory from Boston College—as if we needed more salt in the extra point wounds left over from a certain winter evening in Yankee Stadium.
Despite holding a 3-2 record this fall, Boston College has a problem that is not named Clemson, Florida State or Notre Dame. It’s called recruitment. It lingers year-after-year, a fatal flaw needing a facelift rather than a Band-Aid.
The arrival of Steve Addazio made retaining top local talent from Massachusetts and the rest of New England notably easier; but, the program still has a long way to go before competing with programs like USC, Alabama and Penn State, to name a few.
In 2013, highly touted high school prospects John Montelus and Maurice Hurst Jr. snubbed BC for Notre Dame and Michigan, respectively. Four-star running back Johnathan Thomas joined this trend when he committed to Penn State in 2014. All of these players lived in Eastern Massachusetts.
To add further perspective, BC has successfully recruited only one four-star Massachusetts high school prospect during the Steve Addazio era. His name starts with an S? Strachan? Yeah, that Connor Strachan kid from small-town Wellesley. I heard he plays linebacker and anchors down one of FBS’s top-five defenses, or something like that. Hmm, I guess no talent exists in Massachusetts though…
Get it together BC! Wake up and smell the roses.
Schools like TCU, Miami and Auburn have major advantages to their recruitment strategy. They operate below the Mason-Dixon line, granting them access to high school programs with enough money to build million-dollar football stadiums. These colleges operate in a biosphere that lives and breathes football.
High schools in the Northeast lack the same resources to breed top-tier talent. Allowing any backyard product the caliber of Danny Dalton to walk away proves unacceptable for Boston College, plain and simple. Recruiting reigns supreme in college football.
The problem has a solution, but it involves a lot of heavy lifting. Duke football recently transformed its football program from an ACC punching bag into conference contenders. How? The university invested heavily. Between 2000 and 2007, Duke's record sat at 10-82. In the year 2006, Duke reportedly invested a mere $9.7 million in their football program. According to Forbes, that number nearly doubled to $17 million in 2011.
The school renovated its facilities drastically and created a renowned football-first atmosphere. Recruits not only in North Carolina, but across the country, started to notice the up-and-coming Blue Devils' program. In the blink of an eye, the school landed highly-touted recruits who formerly saw Duke as an after-thought, or a third-or-fourth option at best, behind the likes of UNC and NC State.
The investment paid off big time. Just last year, Duke's talent bought the team a trip to Atlanta to play against Florida State in the 2014 ACC Championship game.
Unless BC fixes fundamental flaws in attracting local recruits, brace yourself for perpetual mediocrity and a plethora of 7-6 seasons. Not just this year or next, but for many years down the road.
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