Billy McGovern offered the challenge shortly after Luke Kuechly left the Boston College campus in January, headed for a life in the National Football League.
The Boston College defensive coordinator made it simple. Kuechly’s job at middle linebacker was open. Less obvious was the position of defensive team leader, a role that Kuechly filled on the field, off the field, which generally happens to All American players who also win the Butkus Award and lead the country in tackles.
At first, Nick Clancy wasn’t sure what his role would be, other than the linebacker who wasn’t necessarily a starter, but was always making contribution, whether it be at Strong Side, Weak side or even Middle Linebacker.
At various times during his carer at BC, which produced not only three solid years of football, but an undergraduate degree in communications, Clancy, a 6-foot-3 inch, 232 pound senior from Plainfield, Illinois did what he needed to do. Sometimes he did more. Sometimes he did less.
But now, in his final season at BC, which will begin with Saturday’s opening game against Miami at Alumni Stadium, Clancy wanted more. He wanted it all.
“I was,” he said with a smile on Wednesday afternoon, “a man on a mission. I know there was a spot open for the taking. I was up for the occasion.”
The mission was to become BC’s starting middle linebacker–Kuechly’s spot. “I initially started at Will (weak side),” said Clancy. “It kind of worked its way to move me to Mike (middle). Everything worked out fine.”
McGovern’s mission statement was simple. Find the best three linebackers and put them in the starting line up. Clancy earned the spot, bumping Sean Duggan from the starting MLB spot.
“He’s playing like a fifth year senior,” said McGovern.
BC coach Frank Spaziani says Clancy’s leadership ability was almost overlooked. “A fifth year senior who wants to come back and has been a good player,” said Spaziani. “It was there and we didn’t even see it He’s a good kid and a good player.”
“”It’s different,” conceded Clancy. “The biggest change is getting the defense lined up, making all the calls. You have to increase your level of concentration. It’s a lot more strenuous from a mental standpoint. I knew in the off-season, I had to get my football IQ to a higher level.’ ‘
Clancy knew what he wanted in the winter, so he spent more time studying game films. He was focused. “I was going to do everything I could do get the job,” said Clancy, who came out of Joliet Catholic High School, took a redshirt season at BC in his freshman season and then moved into the role of utility linebacker. “I had the role of a guy who plays, but wasn’t the starter I figured if I made the effort, I might be there.’
A year ago, Kuechly corrected a lot of mistakes made in front of him and behind him with his overall field presence and intensity.
“The theme going into this season is All in,” said Clancy. “It’s not going to be one or two guys leading the pack. Everybody has to do their job. It’s definitely a group effort.”
Eagles were into serious preparation for the Miami game on Wednesday…One of the keys to success on Saturday and for the season is the kicking game, which was outstanding during training camp with Nate Freese almost perfect (6 of 7) on field goal attempts during the Eagles scrimmages and Gerald Levano booming long hang time punts. Freese gave much of the credit for the improvement to new special teams coach Sean Desai….BC QB Chase Rettig will need protection from his offensive line to succeed this season, which is one of the reasons why Rettig will do his part on Thursday by taking the offensive line to dinner on Thursday…Eagles will open the season with an ACC opponent for the first time since 2007 when they opened the year with a 38-28 win over Wake Forest.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.