There has been much discussion lately amongst Boston College fans about what could bring Luke Kuechly back for his senior season. First and foremost, at the end of the day, remember that nothing we say or do, including writing letters, posting on Twitter, or participating in ritual sacrifices, will change what he thinks. Ultimately, this decision is his alone.
With that said, many BC fans have attempted to rationalize why he will or why he won’t come back for 2012. The following are the best reasons, helping fans understand what factors Kuechly may be weighing. Again, I don’t propose to know what’s going through his mind, but if it were me, this is how I’d be approaching it.
Why Luke Kuechly May Return
• Indications are that he loves BC and his teammates. This is more anecdotal, but it’s something we’ve all heard through reports. He is the face of the program — a big fish in a little pond — and he is well-liked. Further, if he returned, BC fans would practically kiss the ground upon which he walked. Who wouldn’t want to come back to that?
Kuechly, understandably, is probably torn over his decision, and I suspect this is a reason why. When you say goodbye to BC, you say goodbye to all the guys who have been your friends for the last few years, and you leave the community that you built for a much bigger, much more professional setting. Sure, a sense of comfort and family can be rebuilt in his new NFL locker room, but if he’s not ready to leave, then he’s not ready to leave.
• He can set the NCAA tackles record. The NCAA record is 545, held by Tim McGarigle of Northwestern. Kuechly has 532, good enough for the BC record. If he returned, he could break the record by 150, virtually ensuring himself the record in perpetuity. That is, if this matters to him.
• Graduation. This doesn’t hold a ton of water, since players can finish up their degrees after leaving early, and word is he’s looking to graduate a semester early, but Kuechly is a studious kid. He may elect to put his academics in front of football.
Why Luke Kuechly May Not Return
• He has nothing left to prove at the collegiate level. In three years, he set the BC tackle record, is about a dozen or so short of the NCAA record, has won and been nominated for a bunch of awards, and is unquestionably the best BC defensive player (and has been for a while). Finally, he is above this level of competition. What could he possibly do in 2012 that would top what he’s already done, short of winning the Heisman? He has already built a legacy at BC, and it’s a pretty good one.
• His draft stock won’t any get higher. On the CBS Sports draft board, he is the top inside linebacker in the draft. Mock drafts generally have him going mid-to-late first round. NFL fans seem to recognize that even though BC was a bad team this year, Kuechly was extraordinarily good.
Luke Kuechly probably will not move up too much higher for the simple reason that there isn’t much higher that he can go. The thing to consider here is that it can go in another direction, and that’s down. If he leaves now, he does so on top; if he returned for 2012, BC fans would expect him to be as good as ever, but in the event he isn’t, that could hurt his stock and cost him a lot of do-re-mi in the process.
• BC football is in a bad state. If he’s drafted late first round, he’s going to be on a playoff-contending team. Contrast that with Boston College, where he’ll be on a squad that would be lucky to go .500 and squeak into the Wendy’s Where’s The Beef Bowl (played in an actual Wendy’s parking lot with a trophy shaped like the “Where’s The Beef” Lady) and where he won’t be rolling in cash.
• Early departure players can finish up their degrees later. And some do.
When all is said and done, Kuechly has a monumental, life-changing decision in front of him. Whatever his choice is, I expect that Eagles fans will support him in it.