The departure of defensive tackle, B.J. Raji, has left many Eagles fans worried about the team's defense coming into the 2009 season.
But if there is one player that should help BC fans sleep better at night, that player is linebacker Mark Herzlich, who despite being a projected first-round draft selection in this year's class, has opted to remain in school to play out his senior year at the heights.
Herzlich, who was honored as the ACC Defensive Player Of The Year, helped lead the Eagles in becoming one of the nations top defensive squads along side a defense that included Raji, Ron Brace, Kevin Akins, Robert Francois, and Brian Toal.
Herzlich has made strides each season with Boston College in becoming a better player since seeing significant playing time his freshmen year.
In his freshman year, Herzlich totaled 32 solo tackles, 42 total tackles, and a forced fumble. He followed that up with an impressive sophomore year in which the Eagles topped out as high as No. 2 in the nation that season, racking up 97 total tackles, while forcing two fumbles, and snagging his first career interception.
And while his numbers during his sophomore season are impressive, what Herzlich was able to do last season makes his sophomore campaign pale in comparison. Herzlich entered his junior season as a preseason all-star candidate.
He was named to the Lott Trophy and Butkus Award watchlists prior to the season, and lived up to every bit of the hype. Herzlich saw his draft stock skyrocket as he led the team in tackles with 110, 81 of which were recorded as solo tackles. Herzlich also set a career high in sacks with two, as well as interceptions with six, two of which were run back for touchdowns, one being a school record 60-yard return, as he averaged over 20 yards on his INT returns.
Herzlich continued to hit hard, also forcing two fumbles in the 2008 season.
With his draft stock as high as it was, Eagles fans were rightfully nervous that they would not only be losing Raji, but that they would be losing one of the nations top linebackers as well.
But in a move that is refreshing for NCAA sports in today’s era, Herzlich announced that he would be returning for his senior year. Expected to be a top 25 selection in the 2010 NFL draft, Herzlich is a player to keep an eye on this season, as he seems to be well on his way to establishing himself as the most talented linebacker in the nation.
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