Thursday Evening Ramblings

Mike Fassel: the man behind the man (AP)

"During the next few weeks, the staff will commence an all-out attack on everything Boston College, previewing every position and opponent. Today, I will do a slightly different and unexpected type of preview."

Everyone knows that Derrick Knight, Quinton Porter, and Grant Adams hold the keys to a successful season for the offense. There is no doubt that Doug Goodwin, Josh Ott, and William Blackmon must lead the defense with strong 2003 campaigns. Besides those six players, any Boston College fan will list five to ten additional players who must have a good season for the Eagles to succeed.

The three players discussed below will not be on anyone's Top 20 Most Important Boston College football players list. In fact, they wouldn't even be considered in most fans' top thirty or forty. However, each of these footballers will be just as instrumental in the Eagles' 2003 success as Joel Hazard, Ricky Brown, and Sandro Sciortino - all members of most Top 20 lists.

The three most important Boston College football players that you would never expect to get even close to this much press, in the order that I have selected, because, well, this is my column:

3. Rob Leuffen, Senior, Backup Punter

The favorite leaving spring practice to kick the ball away when the offense stalls in the fall, the walk-on senior lost his job when junior Jeff Gomulinski transferred from Fairfield. He now has the honorable duty of warming up the punt returners and pacing the sidelines wearing a very heavy coat so as to not freeze in the wonderful Boston weather.

However, he will hit the weights and the practice field hard to prepare for the possibility of being called into active duty if Gomulinski breaks a nail trying to make a tackle, stubs his toe walking into Lower Dining Hall, or gains a few pounds in an all-night drinking binge. Beyond the backup quarterback, I can't think of a more influential position that second-string punter. Boston College has a good one though, so have no fear.

2. Karim El Nokali, Redshirt Freshman, Third String Quarterback

At no time this season was El Nokali any higher on the depth chart than third, but he did play a starring role in the Spring Game. Starting opposite fellow RSF Dan Berglund, as junior first-stringer Quinton Porter sat out with an injury and new backup Paul Peterson was finishing his time at Snow College, El Nokali completed 13 of 30 passes for 203 yards. So, in his one chance to play, he showed some promise.

Even though he figures to see as much playing time as I will this year, El Nokali will have a very important task: holding the clipboard and acting as the dummy play signal caller! He is a gamer though, so I fully expect him to excel at anything Tom O'Brien sends his way to add to the clipboard.

1. Mike Fassel, Junior, Holder and Backup Kicker

The son of New York Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel and a personal favorite of Eagle Insiders Mike Chevallier and Joe DiSalvo, Mike Fassel is arguably one of the most fundamentally sound holders in the Big East. He never leaves the laces in and he always has the perfect tilt on the ball. He's also probably the most athletic holder in the conference, as he was able to run for a two-point conversation on a botched snap last season.

If the Eagles' offense struggles and has difficulty scoring touchdowns, Fassel will be indispensable in setting up the strong-legged, but inconsistent Sandro Sciortino. He has the heart of a champion and he will be ready when called on. Possibly the most important unheralded player on the Boston College roster, Mike Fassel will be one of the strongest links on the team.

Sports fans are always quick to point out that a team is only as good as its weakest link, but then they proceed to run off at the mouth for hours discussing the best players on the squad. These three players fit in neither category, but I firmly believe that the 2003 team will go as far as these three players take them. Okay, that may be a slight stretch, but all should provide important contributions to this year's squad.

Well, there you have it for another edition of Thursday Evening Ramblings. I hope you enjoyed my look at three important Eagles and I will see you again next week. All of this football talk really makes wish August 30 would get here sooner…

Aaron Rose is a staff writer for He can be reached at Recommended Stories

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