Spring Preview 2010
The Players You Need To Know
Luke Kuechly, LB Boston College
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QB Ricky Dobbs
RB Bernard Pierce
LB Tank Carder
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WR Randall Cobb
Texas RB Lance Dunbar
DE Dontay Moch
Who is Luke Kuechly? … Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani often likened Kuechly to Clark Kent last season. After watching the true freshman perform like nothing short of a superhero, that sounds about right.
As unassuming on campus as he was dynamic on Saturdays, Kuechly was a study in contradictions throughout his debut. His story really made no common sense, which makes it that much more appealing. How does this candidate for a redshirt go on to have an All-ACC first team season just a few months after his high school graduation? On what planet does that happen? Oh, and not only did he rack up 158 tackles, more than double any other Eagle, and a slew of honors, but he was the guy who had to pick up the slack after star LB Mark Herzlich was lost for the season to cancer. For an 18-year old to handle that level of pressure with such excellence and humility, he'd surely have to be from a different galaxy.
Kuechly was one of many outstanding athletes to accept a football scholarship last February. Boston College knew it had another good one from St. Xavier (OH) High School, long a pipeline to Chestnut Hill, but no one could have imagined he'd be this good, this fast. Ask anyone who's ever been around him and they'll tell you that the kid is just different in ways that transcend the measurables. He's a special blend of the tangible and intangible, a coach's dream. His determination, focus, and competitive desire are defining characteristics that drive him to constantly raise the bar. Give him a challenge and he'll bury himself in it until completion. In almost a stubborn fashion, he will not be denied.
So when a series of injuries, including the high-profile loss of Herzlich, forced Kuechly from anonymity to the starting lineup, did you expect him to implode? Doing so would have been completely out of character. He embraced the opportunity and did the unthinkable by immediately softening the blow of losing the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Free of cancer, Herzlich is expected back this fall. Kuechly is expected to be even better with a year of experience and offseason training in the vault. The thought of having both players on the field at the same time already has Eagle fans buzzing about the 2010 season.
Luke Kuechly's best game so far was … last November's visit from North Carolina. The outcome wasn't up to Kuechly's liking, but his performance was spectacular. Unblockable by the Tar Heel linemen and tight ends, he did all he could in a losing cause, collecting a season-high 19 tackles and 2.5 tackles behind the line. The effort earned him a ton of respect from the Carolina players and ACC Rookie of the Week honors.
Why should you care about Luke Kuechly? … After just one season on campus, he's already one of the budding stars of the ACC. And he has the perfect low-key, grounded demeanor to not allow the instant success to become a stumbling block. An all-conference first teamer and the nation's second-leading tackler in 2009, the sky's the limit for the precocious sophomore-to-be. Plus, assuming Herzlich makes a successful return after beating cancer, Kuechly figures to be a key component of one of the nation's best corps of linebackers.
Positives about Luke Kuechly … In many ways, he's the total package at linebacker. He moves real well in space, flying all over the field and sifting through the wash to reach his target. He has good feet and the burst off the snap to eventually develop into a dangerous blitzer. Kuechly's greatest attributes, however, have no specific measurement. His football IQ is already off the charts, which is hard to fathom for such a young player. He's coachable and always eager to learn in the film room, displaying the instincts and field awareness of a much older player. He chose Boston College over Stanford, Duke, and Virginia, so you know he has a good head on his shoulders.
Negatives about Luke Kuechly … Although it's difficult finding many flaws in Kuechly's game, he's still very young, needing to fill out and get a better grasp of the defensive system. His main goals in the offseason are to get bigger, stronger, and faster, enabling him to win a few more battles at the point of attack. When he arrived on the Heights, he looked more like a long and lean safety, which is sure to change in the coming years.
A cool thing about Luke Kuechly you probably didn't know … One of Kuechly's passions away from football is fishing, particularly fly fishing for trout. He's been at it with the family since the fourth grade, and in general, is the type of outdoorsman who'd blend in nicely on the Versus Network. As is the case with just about anything Kuechly attempts, he's the best fisherman of the family despite not having the most experience.
2009: 158 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, one sack, four passes defended, and a fumble recovery