Linebackers a Mixed Bag

Josh Ott (AP - T. Warren)

What do you see when you take a gander at BC's linebackers for the 2003 season? A former National Defensive Player of the Week, two converted safeties, two converted QBs... and then there's Patrick McShane. <p> <b>Free preview of Insider content!</b>

While Patrick McShane did not crack the Boston College two-deep for the Wake Forest game on August 30th, he made possibly more noise in some BC "inner circles" with his "retro" photograph taken for than the news of Ray Henderson starting over Ricky Brown at MLB. He sports a moustache that would put Groucho Marx and Rollie Fingers to shame.

By the way redshirt sophomore Henderson will be starting over true sophomore Brown and serving as Vinny Ciurciu's successor for the 2003 season. Henderson is an interesting story; he was recruited as a quarterback out of high school, redshirted as a freshman, and then spent time at linebacker in 2002. He displayed a nose for the ball and good speed on the inside blitz in limited action.

Brown seemed to be the frontrunner for the job heading into camp having played a ton of downs in 2002, but he seemed to have disappointed coaches with his play. Moreover, Henderson looked quick and inspired in scrimmages and won the job moreso than Brown lost it. Brown was also devastated by the news of his good friend and roomate Jim Unis leaving the team because of recurring concussions which could have affected his play somewhat. Regardless of who starts, Brown will be an asset for the 2003 Eagles on defense because of his speed and game experience.

Not many people knew Josh Ott- casual BC fans and national football fans alike- heading into Boston College's tilt with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame last November. By the time the game was over and the scoreboard read "14-7", Josh Ott was on his way to national media acclaim and became a household name for BC and ND fans alike. Ott returned a Pat Dillingham brain-fart for a touchdown on his way to being named Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week. In addition to that hi-light reel play, he recorded 15 tackles and a fumble recovery in South Bend.

He will serve as co-captain of the BC squad as a senior in 2003, and we will likely have an interview with him later this week. Ott was BC's leading tackler in 2002 and if he stays healthy he should repeat that feat.

Ott will be backed-up in the two-deep by senior Kevin Kiley who saw playing time last season against Pittsburgh and West Virginia, starting versus the latter. He had a quiet game against West Virginia, so much so that the announcers did not once call his name or introduce him. To the the casual BC fan, it could have been Dan Berglund at linebacker for all they knew. Despite this, Kiley has worked hard in the offseason and should be a servicable reserve at the outside linebacker position.

Senior Brian Flores will flank Henderson on the outside opposite Ott. Flores is a former safety who is a bit undersized as a backer but has the speed to make up for it. He suffered a concussion and missed the West Virginia game a season ago, but he was a major contributor in every game he started. He was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Chippewas of CMU. Flores did not have any sacks in 2002 but he could be used more on the blitz in 2003 because of his speed.

Jon Misiewicz will spell Flores at the outside linebacker position. Nicknamed "alphabet" because of the high Scrabble score that is his last name, he saw significant action in 2002 due to the injuries suffered by the LB corps. He will see much more playing time in 2003, as he impressed coaches in camp beating out a number of players, including fan-favorite McShane, for the sixth linebacker spot on the depth chart.

BC Defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani has a ton of speed to work with at the LB position in 2003. Henderson should be a good run-stuffer at MLB and an adept blitzer on passing downs. Ott is Ott, and barring an injury his name will be called more than any other Eagle on defense this upcoming season. Flores' speed will enable him to keep up with most running backs on the schedule, and he will be an asset in run defense and on blitzes. Beyond the two-deep, the Eagles have McShane and true freshman Ray Lankford ready to step in.

While linebacker is a need in this year's recruiting class, BC should be just fine at the position in 2003 with the mixed bag of players on the current roster.

Michael Chevallier is the publisher of He can be reached at Recommended Stories

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