Boston College: Five things to watch during the Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game

Welcome back.

The Eagles unofficially kickoff the 2021 season on Saturday morning with the Jay McGillis Memorial Spring Game and there’s plenty of reasons for fans to tune in. The game is being broadcast live on the ACC Network with kickoff set for 11 A.M. and there will be parents in the stands for the first time since 2019. The Eagles are split up into two teams. Phil Jurkovec is the “head coach” for one squad named Team Boston and the other,  Team Eagles, is being “coached” by Dennis Grosel.

Here’s a quick look at five things I’ll be watching very closely at Alumni on what should be a perfect day for football…

1.) The Jurkovec and Flowers connection

This is sort of an obvious one, but both Phil and Zay are on the same team on Saturday and with a whole spring under their belt, it’ll be nice to see just how in sync they are. Both Flowers and Jurkovec enter this season with high expectations locally and nationally and Saturday will be the first time this year they get to show off as a duo for a national audience.

2.) Which new leaders emerge?

It’ll obviously be a small sample size, but I’m curious to see just how vocal or hands-on some of the returning guys are. There’s an obvious leadership role to be filled with Isaiah McDuffie, Max Richardson and Hunter Long out of the picture, among others.

Marcus Valdez, Brandon Sebastian, Grosel, Mike Palmer, Josh DeBerry, Jahmine Muse, Travis Levy, Brandon Barlow, Ben Petrula, Alec Lindstrom, Zion Johnson, Tyler Vrabel and TJ Rayam are all going to be key veteran voices throughout the year.

3.) The secondary and linebackers

Speaking of Palmer, Sebastian and DeBerry, there’s a sneaky chance that the BC secondary is severely underrated this season. Those three, along with Muse, Jason Maitre and Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, all have a chance to go up against a very talented offense on a daily basis and should be able to hang with the better teams in the ACC.

As for the linebackers, it’s hard to replace the tackling machines that were McDuffie and Richardson, but Kam Arnold’s shift in positions could be a huge factor. It’ll be interesting to see just how quickly Arnold has adjusted in a short amount of time, while Vinny DePalma, Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Hugh Davis, Nick DeNucci and Paul Theobald Jr. all have a chance to make an initial claim for more playing time on Saturday.

4.) The “other” receivers and tight ends

We all know Zay is going to be the go-to guy in the offense this year – at least until Kobay White is ready to go at full speed – but the other talent within the group should be on full display Saturday. Jaelen Gill, Jehlani Galloway, Taji Johnson and Ezechiel Tiedie all could be flying under the radar.

Replacing Long at tight end both on and off the field is nearly impossible. The Eagles have Joey Luchetti, Brendan Smith, Andrew Landry, Hans Lillis, Charlie Gordinier and Tommy Birmingham and it feels like it’s basically an open competition for playing time with Luchetti leading the way.

5.) Special Teams

I’m dead serious.

Last year, Grant Carlson was a legitimate weapon for the Eagles in some key spots during close games. Carlson and John Tessitore – who had arguably the most memorable play of the 2020 season in Death Valley – are the only two guys listed as punters on the team. With special teams playing a huge factor at times last year, it’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat that same success in 2021.

Aaron Boumerhi, like Carlson, was a weapon last year kicking for the Eagles. Danny Longman, Stephen Ruiz and Connor Lytton are all listed on the rosters for Saturday’s game, so it’ll be worth watching to see if any of them standout if given the opportunities.

It won’t be an official game day, but with good weather and a little bit of normalcy on Saturday morning, September 4th won’t feel that far away.