The people nominating candidates for the College Football Hall of Fame got it right on Monday when former Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was on the list.
I've covered college football for 40 years and Kuechly was the BEST
I ever saw and should be included in a group which includes some past legends such as Dick Butkus, Ray Lewis, and Lawrence Taylor.
That is an argument for another time.
I had the privilege of seeing every game Kuechly played at BC, noting with some pride that I spotted him on the first day of practice in his freshman year at BC.
I was covering BC for the Globe and in the summer of 2009 was watching a workout when No. 40 kept making every tackle, every stop on every play that was being in a controlled scrimmage.
Since it was August and No. 40 was not a veteran, I had to go to the roster sheet and saw the listing of a linebacker from St. Xavier High School in high school, who was not on BC's top tier recruit list.
My curiosity took over and I went over to then BC defensive coordinator Billy McGovern, who 13 years later is still working with college players as the defensive coordinator at UCLA, and asked, ""Who is No. 40?'''
McGovern laughed, "Oh, you noticed him,''' he said. "He's going to be very special.''
What made Kuechly even more effective was the presence of teammate Mark Herzlich, whose career was on the same time line as Kuechly's until he was stricken with cancer.
Herzlich fought his way back, but never re-established the super star status he once had.
Kuechly became the main show on defense.
In a career at BC, in which he won awards, led the team, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the country in tackles, and then morphed into a brilliant, but injury (concussions) shortened career in the NFL with Carolina, Kuechly was ALL of that and then some.
Former BC head coach Frank Spaziani, another defensive guru, called Kuechly The Eraser.'' He wipes out all the mistakes we make on defense,'' said Spaziani.
Two plays stick out in my mind which epitomized Kuechly the player.
The Eagles were facing Notre Dame in South Bend when they ran a quarterback option to the wide side of the field.
Kuechly was trailing the play, covering the quarterback or the running back, who was trailing.
Kuechly had to make a choice. He did. He tackled BOTH players and snuffed the play for a loss.
And then there was a game at Maryland in which the Terps were driving in the fourth quarter with what looked like would be a winning TD
The Terps ran into a fourth and one from just inside the BC 40, too long for a field goal, but certainly worth taking a fourth down gamble.
Kuechly lined up just behind his nose guard and on the snap, Hurdled the line of scrimmage and landed on the QB for no gain.
"That,'' said Spaziani, ""typified what kind of player Luke was. Ninty-nine out of 100 players would never even have considered making a play like that.''
There were lots of other plays over the years and lots more stories, which showed Kuechly as a better quality person than he was as a player.
Kuechly's career in the NFL was as spectacular at times as it was in college, but he was also haunted by a series of concussions, which wisely (and sadly) led him to make the wise decision to retire three years ago.
What will not be forgotten is the force of nature he was on the football field, with a Hall of Fame nomination and induction the next logical step.