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Grading the 2021 Eagles: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

A look at the passing game targets, AJ and Mitch give their thoughts and grades

Wide Receivers

AJ: It was an interesting year for the wide receiver position as we saw a trio of wide receivers take control of the position. Zay Flowers, Jaelen Gill and true freshman Jaden Williams all had strong seasons. While CJ Lewis, Jehlani Galloway and Taj Johnson filled out the depth. As we all know when Jurkovec was healthy, all targets played a big role in the offense, but under Grosel, and a battered Jurkovec they struggled. It is a shame that the quarterback position became such an issue, because it would have been interesting to see how this group would have done in this offense. But unfortunately when there isn’t a quarterback to get them the ball there were times where this group couldn’t be properly utilized. Grade B+

Mitch: Going into the 2021 season, the wide receiver position was the deepest and arguably the most talented on the Boston College roster. Zay Flowers ranked among the best receivers in the conference and arguably the nation. But behind him were several complementary weapons: Jaelen Gill, CJ Lewis, Taji Johnson, and Jehlani Galloway all played in 2020 and made significant contributions. The team also got Kobay White and Ethon Williams back from injury. Finally, they also added several talented freshmen, including Jaden Williams who rode a stellar camp to a starting role. This group looked to be one of the best receiving corps in Boston College history.

Unfortunately, Phil Jurkovec’s injury and subsequent poor quarterback play ultimately prevented the passing game from getting off the ground. While the receivers played well and got open, the quarterbacks struggled to get them the ball. There were also occasional issues with drops, along with injuries to several players (Lewis, White, Williams) that eliminated the previously elite depth at wideout. It feels unfair to detract from the receivers for issues that were outside their control; when the quarterbacks got them the ball, they made numerous explosive plays (Missouri, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech). Therefore, giving them an above average, yet not outstanding, grade seems appropriate.

Grade: B

Tight Ends

AJ: Landing transfer Trae Barry was a huge get for the Eagles in the offseason as Hafley found a replacement for Hunter Long heading into the season. When healthy, Barry was dynamic, as seen with his highlight reel catch against Colgate in the opener. However he got banged up, and was not the same threat later in the season. Joey Luchetti turned into a solid backup target, with a handful of catches, and solid play in the rushing attack. Spencer Witter filled in for Barry during his injury and was fine, but not the same kind of weapon. Grade B

Mitch: Regardless of who ended up taking snaps, it was nearly impossible for the 2021 Boston College tight ends to match the play and production of the 2020 group; perhaps more appropriately, that of Hunter Long. Long earned numerous All-American honors last season after leading all tight ends in targets and finishing second in yards. In his wake, the Eagles expected to use Long’s backup, Spencer Witter, and a re-convert to tight end, Joey Luchetti. But Jeff Hafley and company struck a major coup in the transfer portal, acquiring the services of FCS All-American at Jacksonville State, Trae Barry. Barry brought a unique skillset to BC, possessing true wide receiver skills in a tight end’s body. This added another dimension to an already promising passing offense.

Like the wide receivers, however, the tight ends were also dramatically affected by Phil Jurkovec’s absence. This was especially disappointing for Barry, who seemed to develop a strong connection with Jurkovec, before suffering an injury of his own that knocked him out of several games and limited his ability when he returned. Due in part to the aforementioned injury, Barry struggled to progress as a blocker, one of the principal reasons for his transfer to Boston College. But there was no questioning his receiving ability. Luchetti also made many significant surprising additions to the offense. He served as the more traditional, in-line “Y” tight end, used as a lead blocker in the run game. He was also very valuable in the passing game, both as a blocker and a check-down option for the quarterbacks. During Barry’s absence, Witter entered the lineup as his replacement but failed to make a meaningful impact. The rest of the tight end room only earned 27 snaps combined so they are not worth discussing at length.

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Overall, the tight end group was solid but never realized their full potential. Once again, the lackluster quarterback play negatively impacted their ability to do so. Their competency as blockers also seemed limited to one player. There remains a possibility that Barry could be back for another season, seeking a redemptive full campaign with Jurkovec. That will be very interesting to monitor but for the time being, the tight ends also earn a solid, yet unremarkable grade.

Grade: B

Previous Grades: Quarterbacks and Running Backs

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