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Boston College: Eagles navigating strange recruiting waters during pandemic

Image courtesy of JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

By Kevin J. Stone/@kstone06

Over the past decade or so, Massachusetts high school football has gone from under the radar nationally in terms of recruiting to becoming a rising hot bed for some of the top programs in the country.

Dozens of players from the area are now committing to top tier programs, which is both a good and bad thing for new Boston College coach Jeff Hafley.

Hafley and his staff have done an incredible job grabbing some top notch recruits from around the country during a time where the “normal” recruiting practices have all been thrown out the window due to the pandemic. The future is bright, but other programs cherry picking Massachusetts kids while Hafley and his staff sort of play catch up trying to lay foundations with different high school coaches around the state has made things even tougher.

Following Day Two of camp over at The Heights on Friday, coach Hafley sat down with the media via Zoom as did defensive backs Brandon Sebastian and Mike Palmer.

Catholic Memorial’s Boabacar Traore, Dontrell Jones and Jaeden Skeete (all sophomores) all recently verbally committed to BC this week, a clear example that despite the hurdles, this BC staff is fully committed to leaving no stone unturned when it comes to local recruiting.

I asked Hafley how difficult it’s been trying to build relationships around here in a time where face-to-face contact is frowned upon. Hafley admitted it’s been difficult, but it isn’t deterring the staff from trying to grab the best players from the Commonwealth. Most importantly, the personal relationships during the process must be built first no matter what challenges get in the way.

“We definitely want to get in touch with all the kids in this area and make sure we get to know them from a young age,” he said. “I think when you do that – because they are so close – you get them involved at a young age and you get to know them. I think that’s really important for us to get to know the players we’re recruiting.

“It has been hard. We haven’t been able to make it out to any schools. I’ve barely been able to go to any schools. We haven’t had really any kids on campus since Iv’e been here on a real visit, but at the same time no one else has either. So, we’re doing the best we can of getting in touch with these guys whether it’s Zoom or Face Time, or them calling us, and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re going to try and get a lot of young guys in this area and do the best that we can with them. That is a priority for us. I appreciate you bringing that up actually.”

With the recent news that BC will be having a season starting September 12, attention now shifts towards the high school scene. Obviously, campus visits will be slim to none this year, but a high school season will be vital for Hafley and his staff to be able to get out and start doing their best campaigning. On the flip side, with UCONN cancelling its season, the opportunities for local kids to go to a Division 1 school are now tougher to come by as well.

The best players in the area are no longer secrets, and the new Eagles staff is hoping local guys want to #GetIn for what’s shaping up to be a wild ride.

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