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Boston College Football 2022: Last Chance Players (Defense)

Three Eagles that need to have big years on defense

Shitta Sillah, DE

Boston College fans have been desperately waiting for Shitta Sillah to have his breakout season. He flashed some big-play potential in 2019 and 2020 in limited snaps. But in 2021, when he was expected to be the biggest part of BC’s pass rush, he didn’t do very much. He made a big sack in the season-opener against Colgate but failed to record a sack for the rest of the season. Sillah has all the necessary physical tools to be a dynamic pass rusher but still needs to put it all together.

This year, Sillah is entering his fourth season, but he could come back in 2023 due to the extra COVID year. Almost the entire defensive line from 2021 returns, swapping out TJ Rayam for Chibueze Onwuka. Hopefully, Sillah can have a season more like Wyatt Ray as opposed to Brandon Barlow. Where the latter almost solely made plays as a run defender, the former added some much-needed explosive pass rush juice. Ideally, Sillah can also do that this season.

Izaiah Henderson, DT

Another player in desperate need of a big year is one of Sillah’s high school teammates. Izaiah Henderson is another fourth-year player with a pretty quiet career. He played in four games as a true freshman in 2019, recording all of his four tackles against Richmond. In 2020, he missed the entire season due to injury. In 2021 he began the year as a starter but struggled against Colgate and UMass before being benched. 

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With most of the defensive line returning this season, it seems difficult to believe that Henderson will begin the season as a starter again. Even when he did get in the game after being benched, he struggled to make a meaningful impact. Unless Henderson got much stronger this offseason or took major strides in his pass-rushing repertoire, it’s difficult to see him being anything more than a rotational backup this season.

Jason Maitre, DB

Frankly, finding a third defensive player was relatively difficult. This player is also on the list for somewhat different reasons. Jason Maitre has been an impactful defensive player for Boston College for several seasons now. He’s made significant plays at both cornerback and safety. In fact, in each of the last three seasons, the vast majority of his snaps came at three different positions: outside cornerback (2019), slot (2020), and free safety (2021). Maitre is entering his fifth season with Boston College, and while he technically could return in 2023, this is most likely his last season.

Maitre has to establish himself as a consistent, effective starter in at least one position by the end of this year. He made some nice plays at free safety last year before suffering a season-ending injury and projects to start there this year as well. However, given his size, he fits best as a slot cornerback. The rotation at cornerback is well-established, so Maitre will most likely return to free safety. 

Therefore, he needs to show that he can create splash plays on the backend of the defense, namely in the form of interceptions. Last year, he was only targeted eight times and broke up three passes but did not record any interceptions. Therefore, if he can continue to improve his ball production and maintain his consistency as a run defender, Maitre could establish himself as a draftable prospect in 2023.