2011 BC football breakdown, Part XIX: Strong safety


Today we move further back into the defensive frontier, amongst the safeties in Boston College’s secondary. Boston College has some playmakers back here, and a little bit of experience, but less than it had before. Last year, Jim Noel was on the depth chart at this position, but now he’s playing corner. The Eagles will have a veteran starter line up here, but beyond that, BC has some new blood to train.

Dominick LeGrande | 26 | Senior

LeGrande was the starter for part of last year, but by season’s end, he was playing second-string behind Jim Noel. He made his way into eleven ballgames, tackling 27 guys but surprisingly leading the team in fumble recoveries with three. LeGrande played linebacker but was shifted to the safety position prior to the 2010 season and has now taken over the top line of the depth chart with Noel’s shift. As a senior, you’d expect a certain level of quality out of his play, and he hasn’t been bad, though over the course of the year he will have competition for his starting role.

Dominique Williams | 9 | RS-Freshman

Williams has not yet taken the field as a Boston College Eagle (unless you think the spring game counts) but some thought he could actually contend for this starting job. As of now, he hasn’t got it, but he almost certainly will at some position next year, if not this one. I saw his YouTube video (assuming it was him who put it up, and since his screen name would seem to indicate as much, I’m going with it) and it reveals a strong, tough player who was a threat in multiple phases of the game. Of course, I watched nine minutes of highlights which you’d think will only show you the good stuff, but it looks like he can read a play and has a nose for the football. Williams appears to be versatile, talented, and athletic, which should bode well for him in his years at BC.

(Apparently, he and Shane Cranmore are both #9 now. He was #38 last year, but that now belongs to Paul Maglio. Eh, whatever.)

Josh Keyes | 25 | Freshman

You may be wondering why Josh Keyes is here. After all, the school lists him as a linebacker (unless it’s a typo). Well, his recruitment page listed him as a safety, he played safety in high school, and when interviewed upon commitment to Boston College, he said he expected to play strong safety. If the coaches have decided he’s now a linebacker, then I suppose they know something we don’t. As far as I’m still concerned, he’s a safety. In any event, Keyes comes to the Eagles from Columbia County, New York and played two positions, running back and defensive back, in high school. His running back numbers were nothing to scoff at: he racked up over 5100 yards and 71 touchdowns in his career. Defensively, he made 79 tackles and picked off four passes in 2010 for Chatham High School. He may redshirt in 2011, but honestly, who knows. There aren’t a lot of bodies at this position, but now there’s doubt cast on what position he’ll play. We will find out in good time.

At strong safety last year, Noel and LeGrande were part of a pass defense unit that lagged far behind the rush defense, coming in at 76th in the nation. Part of that is clearly due to the lack of an adequate pass rush elsewhere and that is something which needs to be addressed. However, they were also part of a pass defense that picked off 20 passes, tied for eighth in the land. Now, Noel is moving to corner, and LeGrande is the fulltime starter. I think he’ll be fine in the role, but he should be careful not to be eclipsed by Dominique Williams. Williams looks like he may be the real deal, and the coaches will probably be itching to get him in the game(s) this season.