Boston College's 20-13 loss to No. 15 Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Sunday capped off a roller coaster season for for the gridiron greats of Chestnut Hill.
The Eagles began the season with high expectations, with some believing that BC could compete for an ACC Championship title. Those hopes faded quickly, though, as the Eagles started the season at 2-5. But instead of packing it in, Frank Spaziani's team put together an impressive stretch, winning its final five games of the season to become bowl eligible and finish the regular season at 7-5.
Now that the season is officially over, it's time to present the Eagles' postseason awards to the truly outstanding (and disappointing) players in Chestnut Hill.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Montel Harris (Junior - Running Back) - Montel Harris emerged as one of the ACC's most prolific running backs last season after rushing for a career-high 1,457 yards and 14 touchdowns. Harris regressed slightly this season, but still put up very impressive numbers. In 11 games, Harris rushed for 1,243 yards and eight touchdowns. Harris rushed for over 100 yards eight times, including his 183-yard, three-touchdown performance against Wake Forest. Injuries forced Harris to miss the Eagles' regular season finale against Syracuse and their bowl game against Nevada. Despite missing two games, Harris was still the runaway favorite for the offensive player of the year award.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Luke Kuechly (Sophomore - Linebacker) - If there was just one overall Most Valuable Player award for the 2010-11 Eagles, Luke Kuechly would win it hands down. Kuechly was the most dynamic player on the field in almost every game he played in. In 13 games, Kuechly racked up outstanding numbers. He led the nation in tackles (183 total, 110 solo) and leads the nation in consecutive games with double-digit tackles (26 games). The most amazing part is that Kueckly is only a sophomore. One can only imagine how dominant Kueckly will be next season, and ultimately in the NFL. On his current pace, Kuechly could be a top five draft pick. But that's still a ways off, and until then, he'll have to settle for the SB Nation Boston MVP award.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Chase Rettig (Freshman - Quarterback) - It's not easy to be thrown into a the most important starting role in any sport, especially football. That's the situation that true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig found himself in this season, and against arch rival Notre Dame no less. Rettig had his ups and downs as the Eagles' gunslinger assumed the starting role, ultimately leading BC into a nationally televised bowl game. In his freshman season, Rettig completed 100-of-195 passes for 1,238 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. No, they aren't overly impressive numbers, but when considering the fact that he led BC to five straight wins to close out the regular season, they take on more importance. The future is bright for Rettig, who is undoubtedly the Eagles' quarterback of the future.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Mark Herzlich (Senior - Linebacker) - Mark Herzlich was once the best linebacker in college football, but he fell victim to one of the most tragic diseases known to mankind: cancer. Following his diagnosis with Ewing's Sarcoma in May of 2009, Herzlich was sidelined for the entire 2009-10 season. Miraculously, Herzlich survived the fight of his life and returned at the start of the 2010 season. He went on to play every single game this season, and looked pretty good doing it. In 13 games, Herzlich had 65 tackles (50 solo) and had four interceptions. While his numbers dipped significantly (110 total tackles, 81 solo in 2008), the fact that he was able to come back and play at the level he did is amazing. His draft stock has slipped, but there is no doubt that when Herzlich is on his game, he is one of the best in the business.
MOST SURPRISING: Andre Williams (Freshman - Running Back) - Not many BC fans had heard of Andre Williams entering the Eagles' regular-season finale against Syracuse, but they certainly know him now. Williams had a breakout day and surprised fans and players alike with a career-high 185 rushing yards and a touchdown on a school-record 42 carries. Then in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Williams rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. For the season, Williams had 468 yards and two touchdowns. Williams' solid performance in the Eagles' final two games seemingly came out of nowhere, and he wouldn't have had the chance to shine if Montel Harris hadn't been injured. It's currently unknown if Harris will enter his name in the NFL draft this year, but if he does, the Eagles have a very capable running back in Williams waiting in the shadows.
MOST DISAPPOINTING: Dave Shinskie (Sophomore - Quarterback) - When thinking about the Eagles' early season struggles, one name in particular comes to mind: Dave Shinskie. Entering the season, Shinskie was expected to take a step forward and lead the Eagles to the next level. Instead, he took a huge step backwards. Shinskie finished the season having completed 49-of-96 passes for 618 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions. It seemed that the Eagles couldn't get going offensively with Shinskie at the helm, and when they did, it seemed like Shinskie almost always threw a bad pass or committed a turnover. Shinskie Maybe we should have got the hint that Shinskie wasn't the right man for the job when he lined up under the right guard instead of the center on the very first play of the year. Shinskie ultimately lost his starting job after a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech, leading to the beginning of the Rettig era. All things considered, we can safely say that the Dave Shinskie experiment in Chestnut Hill was a failure, and a miserable one at that.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Frank Spaziani - Coming off of BC's loss in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, many will begin to question the coaching ability of Eagles' head coach Frank Spaziani. But like him or not, you have to give him credit. He led a 2-5 team that had lost its way to a 7-5 record and an appearance in a bowl game. That's impressive.
Looking forward, Spaziani and Boston College should have a bright future. With a talented freshman quarterback, solid freshman receivers, great running backs and a star in the making in Kuechly, Boston College's football team could be headed towards great things next season. Only time will tell.