With BC Football’s season ending abruptly following Coach Hafley’s decision to opt-out, it’s time to reflect on a promising season that should get Eagles fans excited about the future.
The Gavel Sports recognizes some of the team’s key contributors over the season, from Team MVP to Sleepers for next season:
Most Valuable Player
Matt DeMerlis: I think, without a doubt, the MVP of this team was QB Phil Jurkovec. Despite his absence late in the season, we would not have seen as much success without the stellar play of Phil to extend plays, make big time passes, and lead fourth quarter comebacks. BC needed a QB, and they got an elite one in Jurkovec. The future of BC Football is exciting with Phil at the helm.
Jake McNeill: After transferring from Notre Dame, Phil Jurkovec was a game-changer for the Eagles. While he struggled with consistency—potentially due to injuries—he showed flashes of major upside. He looked like the best quarterback BC has had since Matt Ryan at some points, and his dual-threat abilities were instrumental in many of BC’s wins. If he continues to improve as expected, this will not be his last time as the team MVP.
Joe Birdsall: It should be no surprise to see Phil Jurkovec as the unanimous MVP on this list. The sophomore transfer injected life into a passing game that was oftentimes stagnant under Steve Addazio and Anthony Brown. With AJ Dillon in the NFL and the running game struggling throughout the year, Jurkovec was the main reason why Boston College improved in a year it likely should have regressed.
Corbin Bernal: QB Phil Jurkovec rightfully takes this award. The Notre Dame transfer was immense for the BC offense this season, as he revitalized the pass game and is arguably the best quarterback BC has had since Matt Ryan. Jurkovec is an elite passer with the potential to lead BC to multiple winning seasons during his time here, and I bet this won’t be the only time that he wins this award.
Offensive Player of the Year
Matt: Outside of Phil, BC found themselves an offensive weapon in WR Zay Flowers, who recorded nine touchdowns on 892 yards throughout the season. Though he had a decent year last season, his electrifying speed really came out this year, keeping the ACC’s best secondaries on their heels and blowing by defenders to amass yards-after-catch. Can’t wait for him to be joined by WR Kobay White next year.
Jake: In 2020, Zay Flowers recorded 10 total touchdowns. He is the first non-running back to do so since 1984. The fact that he did it as only a sophomore without consistently healthy quarterback play only makes the feat more impressive. When he turns on the burners, he gives BC the deep threat that they lacked throughout Addazio’s tenure as head coach.
Joe: Zay Flowers was fantastic throughout 2020, but tight end Hunter Long’s emergence truly opened up the intermediate passing game for Jurkovec. Long had the second-most receiving yards among NCAA tight ends, behind only Florida Gators star Kyle Pitts. While Flowers was responsible for more explosive plays, Long’s ability to make plays up the seam completely unlocked the passing game.
Corbin: This was a difficult decision, but I think Zay Flowers edges it out for me. Hunter Long was massively important for this BC offense and an extremely consistent target for Jurkevoc all season, but Zay Flowers was the first non-running back to record 10 touchdowns in one season since 1984 for the Eagles. He is a sophomore with exhilarating speed and was one of the top receivers in the ACC this season. With more experience under his belt, and hopefully a completely healthy Jurkevoc behind center for every game next season, Flowers has the potential to be one of the country’s best wideouts.
Defensive Player of the Year
Matt: Looking on the other side of the ball, it’s not as clear-cut as to who the standout was defensively, but I think LB Isaiah McDuffie was the most active on the field—leading the team in tackles (107), finishing third in sacks (three), and even pulling down an interception. However, I think Max Richardson or Brandon Sebastian all make sense as top performers on this improved defense.
Jake: DB Jahmin Muse broke out in 2020 to become one of BC’s top defensive players. He led the team in forced turnovers (four) and interceptions (three) and also finished top-five in total tackles (37). Muse struggled in coverage at points, but his ability to make big, momentum-shifting plays puts him at the top of BC’s defense in 2020.
Joe: Linebacker and defensive captain Max Richardson takes this honor after finishing second on the team with 99 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The senior was the proverbial quarterback of head coach Jeff Hafley’s defense as a do-it-all presence in the middle of the field and will likely be missed next season when he moves on to the NFL.
Corbin: LB Isaiah McDuffie recorded a team-high 107 tackles on the season, which was second-most in the ACC and shows why he is deserving of this award. The redshirt junior started and played all 11 games for the Eagles this season and tallied an interception against Duke earlier in the season. McDuffie was a vocal leader on and off the field for the Eagles and visibly embodied the team spirit and passion on every single snap this season.
“Rookie” of the Year
Matt: After red-shirting his freshman year, OL Christian Mahogany earned the starting role in 2020, playing all 11 games as a key member on an offensive line with some big names. With some seniors graduating after this year, he’ll give the Eagles a stable option and may be joined with some previously highly-recruited prospects including Finn Dirstine, Kevin Pyne, or Ozzy Trapilo.
Joe: Offensive lineman Christian Mahogany held his own in his first year as a starter, and that experience should serve him well in the near future. With stalwart senior Ben Petrula likely headed to the NFL, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. could need to shuffle his offensive line in 2021. Mahogany’s solid play likely makes him a candidate to move around a bit along the line, as a year of experience should help give him some versatility
Corbin: Redshirt freshman OL Christian Mahogany shined for the Eagles this year, as he started and played all 11 games this season. Boston College is historically known for the quality of the team's offensive linemen, and Mahogany is shaping up to be yet another big name for the Eagles. In his first year of eligibility, he fit into a massively important role with maturity and confidence, and he will provide BC with stability and consistency over the next few seasons on the offensive line.
Most Improved Player of the Year
Matt: WR CJ Lewis definitely deserves the most improved player honor. After only two receptions last season for 13 yards and no touchdowns, Lewis exploded for 28 receptions, 460 yards, and five touchdowns, averaging a team 16.4 yards per reception. He will be a great WR2/WR3 option behind Flowers and White next season. DB Jahmin Muse also receives some consideration after a fantastic year with a team-leading three picks.
Jake: After an impressive freshman season on the heights, Zay Flowers exploded into a true WR1 following a season-ending injury to Kobay White. Flowers finished his 2020 campaign with over 500 more receiving yards and six more touchdowns than he did last year. His numbers will likely go down next year with the return of White and the continued improvement of CJ Lewis, but make no mistake: Flowers is a player with legitimate NFL potential.
Joe: Zay Flowers has to be the choice here. After a relatively quiet freshman season, the speedy wideout paced the team this year with 892 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. As a constant threat in the running game through jet motion and reverses, Flowers became a player that defensive coordinators need to scheme against, and his high-end speed takes the tops off of defenses. Look from him to have an even more expanded role in 2021.
Corbin: After only recording two receptions last season, WR CJ Lewis stepped up into the WR2 option for the Eagles this season and had a very impressive campaign. After Kobay White had an unfortunate premature end to his season, BC was in need of a wide receiver to help Zay Flowers offensively. Lewis took on that challenge and ended the season with 460 yards and five touchdowns. Looking forward to next season, Jurkovec will have a terrific trio of Flowers, White, and Lewis as targets offensively that will undoubtedly cause problems for any defense.
Sleeper Players for Next Season
Matt: There are so many different underrated players I’m excited about for next season. I think DE Cam Horsely has a lot of potential to be a wrecking ball on defense, and once WR Ethon Williams returns from injury he will add to an already elite receiving corps. Yet, I’m going to RB Pat Garwo III as my sleeper pick. His stats don’t really jump off the page, but I liked what I saw in his game during the season, and after the less-than-stellar play of starting RB David Bailey, I think Garwo can force himself into touches next season with a solid training camp and offseason.
Jake: Not necessarily at Boston College, but if Dennis Grosel transfers to a school where he is able to start, he has the ability to become a star. It will be nearly impossible for him to wrestle the job away from Jurkovec, but his performance in BC’s loss to Virginia shows that he has mountains of potential. His 520 passing yards tie Doug Flutie’s single-game record. Adding in four passing touchdowns and a passer rating of 180, the game was truly an all-time great individual performance. Certainly there are some coaches who think that they can tap into that potential next season.
Joe: Ohio State transfer wideout Jaelen Gill showed some flashes this year, notching two 100-yard games, and Eagles fans should expect him to become a legitimate second option behind Flowers next season. With Hunter Long headed to the NFL, Jurkovec will need another receiver to rely on, and Gill has the talent to blossom in such a pass-heavy offense.
Corbin: With the announcement of one of the best recruiting classes in BC football history, along with arrival of a few very talented transfers, BC has a lot of potential to be excited about moving forward in the future. Defensively, I think it will be exciting to see the role that DE Cam Horsely takes on, as he boasts tremendous size and speed for a defensive end. Offensively, I think RB Pat Garwo III has the most potential to be a breakout star. He has a similar build to AJ Dillion, with an extremely powerful lower body and low center of gravity. I believe that if he can show he is secure with handling the ball, he has the potential to be a top running back in the ACC and really expand the BC running game.
Be sure to follow @BCGavelSports for all of the latest updates on Boston College athletics.