From 2009 to 2011, Boston College’s linebacking corps had a very special guy in the middle. That individual ended up breaking the BC tackle record in just three seasons before becoming a top-ten NFL draft pick. The teammates that Luke Kuechly left behind in this unit might not be future NFL superstars like him, but they’re still the best group on the team.
Boston College Linebacking, 2012
Even without Luke Kuechly racking up almost 200 tackles, this unit still boasts some of the best talent on the team. I don’t intend this as a slight to the current linebackers, but when you take the the best linebacker in the country out of the rotation, your group is going to appear worse by default, and as such, players here and there (like Kevin Pierre-Louis and Sean Duggan, Kuechly’s likely replacement) will be unfairly compared to him all year. We don’t have any Kuechlys these days, but this group is still good and should be respected. They can be successful doing their own thing.
Having Kuechly in the middle depressed stats for just about everyone in this region of the field. Instead of other guys stepping up and snatching some of those tackles, Kuechly behaved like a heat-seeking missile and did a lot of the work by himself. Now, in 2012, new linebackers will get the chance to rise up. The most likely candidate to lead this unit in tackles is Pierre-Louis, who was second on the team to Kuechly with 74 (117 fewer).
Boston College will also get to see some new faces work their way into games, like Steven Daniels and Nick Lifka. The former will almost certainly not redshirt, as BC already made him wait a year in academic exile at Worcester Academy and they’ll want to pull the bubble wrap off of him right away. Lifka has already redshirted and will play in 2012. As for the other true freshman, they probably will — probably should — redshirt barring an unforeseen depth cataclysm.
Is it possible that having Kuechly here last season masked some deficiencies in the unit that would otherwise be apparent? Perhaps, though it certainly appeared that the rest of the linebackers played just fine by themselves. Regardless, now Boston College will learn what it truly has back here in terms of depth as they prepare for life without Luke. Led by Pierre-Louis and Divitto, it would be surprising if this group does not play well this season.