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Boston College: Eagles make progress on and off the field in Hafley’s first year

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Boston College hired Jeff Hafley a year ago yesterday and in that time, Hafley has transformed the Boston College Football program from a semi competitive program to a program that could compete for an ACC title in the future.

Hafley has improved all aspects of the program starting with recruiting. Hafley assembled a coaching staff with college and NFL experience. Both he and his staff can not only recruit but they can sell recruits on the idea that they can prepare them for the next level because of their NFL experience.

The Boston College staff did such a good job recruiting that Hafley admitted yesterday on WEEI that he has only met one of the 24 recruits expected to sign tomorrow face to face. Like every other program in the country during the pandemic, all of the 2021 recruiting was done virtually. It speaks to the kind of recruiter Hafley is if he can get a four star recruit like defensive back Clinton Burton to come to Boston College without ever meeting him in person.

That’s the difference with Hafley. He has a presence about him despite his small stature. People and players genuinely enjoy being around him and that presence is a big reason why Boston College is on the brink of breaking through in the ACC. He puts his money where his mouth is unlike his predecessor.

You can point to the Eagles 6-5 record this season and say he is no better than his predecessor in that regard but the program’s success this season should not be measured by it’s record.

2020 was a successful season because the Eagles were able to play all 11 of their scheduled games without interruption due to COVID-19. Boston College had two positive tests from June to last weekend. TWO! Technically, it was only one. That is very impressive and it speaks to the commitment of the players.

It also says a lot about Hafley and his staff. It shows that the players bought in and that is what matters the most.

Hafley’s has also changed the culture at B.C. There is a different vibe at the Heights now. Boston College feels like a big time program again. From the videos to the behind the scenes stuff, Boston College is now a public program. People outside of the program feel more connected than they did previously. That matters. Especially in recruiting.

On the field, Notre Dame transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec had a record breaking season throwing for 2,558 yards and 17 touchdown passes. Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s offense was the perfect fit for his skill set.

The Eagles went away from the ground and pound philosophy of Steve Addazio and were more wide open this season. While the running game struggled for most of the season, B.C was more explosive this season and they made big plays.

Defensively, the Eagles played well despite struggling in the Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia games. They finished top five nationally in creating turnovers and played an attacking style under first year defensive coordinator Tem Lukabu. Hafley and Lukabu are terrific teachers of the game and that will appeal to recruits moving forward.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream for the Eagles. 6-5 is not a great record but the program was more competitive this season as evident by the North Carolina and Clemson scores.

The program is heading in the right direction and big things are on the horizon. Jeff Hafley was a home run hire by former athletic director Martin Jarmond. It will be interesting to see just how much the Eagles build on the foundation that was laid this season.

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