The first day of classes for the new semester at Boston College began on Monday and the new student was checking out his schedule–which was loaded with four classes. He was also busy shopping for essentials for his dorm room–sheets, pillow cases and assorted items.
But this kid wasn’t a freshman entering in mid year to get a jump-start on his college career. And this wasn’t a kid who needed to go shopping at places like Target, which is where he was indeed shopping. What he really wanted to do was just hang out with his buddies, who were all over the BC campus and beyond.
Say hello to Luke Kuechly, who was back at BC this week, fulfilling a promise he made to his parents after he took off from the BC campus last winter, a year and a half before he was scheduled to graduate.
Kuechly had done all he could as a football player at BC, as a two-time All American linebacker, a Butkus Award winner and the leading tackler in BC history as well as the leading tackler in the country.
With all of that on his resume, Kuechly, after some considerable soul-searching, chose to pass up his senior season at BC for a chance to play at the next level in the National Football League.
Not many people were surprised when the Carolina Panthers, using the 9th pick in the draft, chose Kuechly, which earned the kid from Cincinnati, Ohio a 4-year contract worth $12.58 million dollars, including a $7.58 million signing bonus.
Kuechly celebrated by RENTING a one-bed room apartment in Charlotte and buying a new COUCH.
New car? Nah, Kuechly’s 2-year old Yukon was good enough to get around.
He moved into a linebacker slot with the Panthers, where he established himself as a starter. At mid-season he was moved to a more comfortable role at middle linebacker. All that led to was a reprise of his senior season at BC. Kuechly led the Panthers in tackles and at the end of the season was also leading the NFL with 164 tackles, which was a primary reason why the Panthers jumped from 28th to 10th in defense this season.
All of that is in Kuechly’s past–for now. On Tuesday he walked around the campus, saying hello to familiar faces and getting greetings from people who watched him walk by and then said, “Is that Luke”?
Yes it was and Kuechly was having fun. “It’s all been good,” said Kuechly, meaning the NFL as much as anything “The biggest difference is the speed factor. Everyone up there is fast. Now I’m back here, just taking some classes.”
Sounding a bit like Crash Davis from Bull Durham talking about his time “in the show”, Kuechly talked to his fellow students about his life in the NFL, while maintaining his goal was to finish up the business of getting a degree. Promises are promises and Kuechly is old-fashioned enough to still believe in that, especially when you make the promise to your mom.
But it also seemed clear that the 6-foot-3 inch 245 pound Kuechly still enjoyed being a kid, hanging out with his buddies.
“He’s amazing,” said BC director of football operations Barry Gallup with a laugh as he explained a call he received about Kuechly from a billing office at BC questioning whether Kuechly had the funds necessary to get housing at BC. “He’s the same kid. One of a kind. I told them (the billing office) that everything was ok. .”’
“Sometimes players leave here and come back and they are changed by a lot of things,” said Kelly Wheeler, BC’s Assistant Director of Football Operations, who deals with much of the nuts and bolts regarding BC football players. “”Not Luke. He came back here didn’t have a car and was asking all sorts of questions that only Luke would ask. Same old Luke and that’s great. Nothing has changed with him.”
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.