2011 BC football breakdown, Part XXI: Cornerback


Boston College football is a lot of things to a lot of people, but thin at cornerback is not one of them. Young and inexperienced, outside of Noel and Fletcher, maybe, but not particularly thin. One particular player joining the ranks of the corners is the reason I say that, and his presence has made the future bright in the BC defensive backfield.

Jim Noel | 23 | Junior

Noel, a local from Everett, stands at 6-4 and is a lean 185 lb. Last season, he played in all thirteen of BC’s games and made four interceptions, which was second-best on the team. He’s one of only two Boston College players from last season (the other being graduate DeLeon Gause) to have had a pick-six. Noel registered 36 tackles, one of which was for a loss, and one breakup. When he got that start last year during the LeGrande suspension, he made it count, picking off two passes and making ten tackles. Late in the season, he was listed as the starter on the depth chart. Noel’s ability is certainly there, but at the start of the season, he is second on the back corner depth chart to sophomore CJ Jones.

Donnie Fletcher | 4 | Senior

If cornerbacks had a captain, Fletcher would probably be it. He’s already a 2011 team captain, so why not. As a senior, he’s the most tenured of them, and probably the best of the proven players the Eagles have at this position. A non-redshirt when he was a freshman, he has appeared in every single game in his first three seasons at Boston College and has started in twenty, including all thirteen from last year. Fletcher’s 2010 was particularly good: he made 56 tackles, led the team with five interceptions, broke up three passes and recovered a fumble. This has gotten him on two preseason watch lists: the Jim Thorpe Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award (Luke Kuechly as well). 2012 NFL Draft groupies have taken notice as well, projecting him as a mid-round pick if all goes to plan. Fletcher is a key component to Boston College’s defense and has proven himself by getting in on a number of plays this past year and making plays when he had the chance.

James McCaffrey | 29 | RS-Freshman

McCaffrey is a local from Winchester who sat out 2010 due to redshirt. He both played the wide receiver position and covered wide outs as a defensive back in high school. Coming out of high school, his 40 time was clocked at 4.45 with an impressive 39-inch vertical. If he’s still got that kind of skill, he can certainly be put to good use.

CJ Jones | 18 | Sophomore

As a freshman, Jones was the second-string corner behind now-graduate Chris Fox. He got in on twelve of last year’s thirteen games and made 16 tackles over the course of the season. At 5-11, he’s not the tallest guy BC has in their secondary, but he’s fast and is good at covering receivers.  The preseason depth chart has him beating out Jim Noel for one of the starting cornerback positions, so expect to see a lot of Jones this year.

Manuel Asprilla | 21 | Freshman

Boston College sure does love their local products, and this one is from Everett. Asprilla played corner for Everett High, posted a decent 40 time and a so-so vertical, and apparently shares a name with a small settlement in Colombia (the magic of Google). Rivals considered him one of the top ten best recruits to get in Massachusetts for the 2011 class.

Albert Louis-Jean | 5 | Freshman

Last but certainly not least is this local gem the Eagles had fall in their laps at the end of 2010. Thank the good Lord that Miami fired Randy Shannon, because when they did, four-star recruit Louis-Jean decommitted from the Hurricanes and came back home to the Boston area, choosing the Eagles over his many other suitors. In fact, with Louis-Jean rounding out his class, Boston College ended up getting four of the top ten recruits in Massachusetts. One would argue that it should be higher, but we’ll take it for now. Anyway, ALJ has shown the ability to play hard and tackle harder, with some good speed and an athletic frame on top of that. More than one scouting report, however, believes he will evolve into a safety, though the school lists him as a corner right now. I had suspected that the temptation to play Louis-Jean this year (as opposed to redshirting him) would be too great to pass up, and with him making the two-deep depth chart, it is virtually certain they won’t change their minds now.

There will probably eventually be even more temptation to have Fletcher and Louis-Jean as the two starting corners in 2011, because that does sound like a pretty dynamic duo. If it were up to me, I just might go for it. If they don’t redshirt ALJ, and it looks pretty clear they won’t, he’s not going to be riding the bench with limited playing time, I’ll put it that way. Whether at corner or one of the safeties, he is going to play his fair share. Either way, the Eagles look alright here.