Early returns successful for Boston College

CHESTNUT HILL — It depends from person to person how much stock one wants to put in recruiting rankings. At the very least, one has to acknowledge they're imperfect, as all projection businesses are.

But if you are going to judge the Boston College class by those metrics, this 2019 class is the highest-rated since 2003.

Now, the numbers won't jump off the screen, as 247sports.com, which does its own ratings and composite ones with other services, has the Eagles currently ranked 52nd in the nation and 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But when compared to previous years, it's a nice leap forward.

For instance, last cycle, the Eagles were rated 71st overall, and most years, Boston College is projected as the worst class in the ACC.

So for Wednesday's press conference about the 16 players who signed early letters of intent, Addazio — while maintaining that the caliber of players the program has produced over the years speaks for itself — did seem to take a measure of pride in the recognition from a rankings perspective.

In fact, Addazio opened his remarks with those numbers.

"I'm excited about the class that we've signed moving forward here in 2019, the highest-rated class that certainly we've had since we've been here, and I believe the highest-rated class since 2003," he said.

At the same time, Addazio impressed upon the fact that the strategy isn't predicated on ratings.

"Our goal is not just to go out there and say, 'We're going to chase this four-star, five-star guy.' Some people do that," Addazio said. "We obviously are going to go out and chase the best players we can chase, too. But, while doing that, we want to make sure that we have the right guys that create the best marriage."

Three of those players who signed will be early enrollees: defensive tackle Izaiah Henderson, quarterback Sam Johnson, and wide receiver Ethon Williams.

While every player in each class is valuable, many times the centerpiece is the signal-caller, and Addazio believes he has a good one in Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder. The Wixom, Mich. native who played at Walled Lake Western, Johnson is an athletic player, but not a run-first quarterback, as Addazio was quick to mention.

"He's a thrower, now," Addazio said. "He's a 6-foot-4, (6-5)-guy that can chuck the ball down the field. He has great presence. He's very athletic, and I think he's a guy that will impact the game. But he's a thrower that has athleticism. He's not an athlete that can throw. He can throw the ball. We had him in camp, and watched him make those throws. He was very, very impressive. So we're really, really excited about Sam."

And while the ratings for the class are better than normal, from a footprint standpoint, this is a pretty typical BC haul. Of the 16 signees, five are from New Jersey, two from Ohio, two from Connecticut, two from Maryland, two from Michigan, and one each from New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Also in line with what BC usually brings in, 12 of the 16 hail from either Catholic or private schools.

"Well, Catholic leagues as a whole, obviously for us makes sense," Addazio said. "And Jersey is in our five-hour footprint, so that makes double-sense. New Jersey is our footprint. Catholic schools are our footprint. We've got a two-fer right there. It makes good sense for us.

"Our footprint is, obviously, New England, New Jersey, and we expand it deeper. But when you call real footprint, you're talking about that five-six-hour radius. I think any private, Catholic places are always real good places to start for us. We're in Catholic schools nationally, in Ohio and all these other places."

As far as positional breakdown, the Eagles grabbed five defensive backs, four defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, two wide receivers, and one quarterback, running back, and linebacker.

"You start with a roster management," Addazio said. "We want 15 offensive linemen (in the program). OK, that's a number, but we certainly can't end up with 12. Is it 14? Is it 15? If you don't manage your roster, and you just let guys do their thing, at some point you'll get out of whack. That's my job as the head coach and the manager of the roster."

While, many times, those positions can change once the players arrive on campus, Addazio feels that won't be the case here.

"You're seeing us put these guys where they're going to be," he said. "I don't see that changing any way, shape, or form right now for anybody. I think we're right on the money."

And now in the second year of having an early signing period in December, Addazio feels that, while it makes for a hectic month, the Eagles know how to approach it.

"I think that we've adjusted well. Here's the story, right? We go out there, we do our homework. We do a great job evaluating. We recruit guys. I think we build relationships. We get them here early. I think we are aggressive and on target in our evaluations. . . . For us, I think it's been a good thing."

He added, "Everything's changing so fast. It's hard to keep your arms around it. You adjust to the new normals, and you work within the new normals. That's the best I can tell you. This is the new normal, and it will probably change again, for all I know."

The final, traditional signing day is not until Feb. 6, but most of this class is wrapped up for the Eagles. From all indications, Addazio likes the current standing of this class.

"Just really like where we're headed," he said. "I like what we've done in this recruiting season a lot. Again, we all know, we'll have a better evaluation of this down the road. But I would say, very, very excited and happy where we are, at least right now, today."

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