As a Boston College Alumni, and the brother of an Auburn Alum, I have seen my fair share of both teams over the last eight years. My "Superfan" shirt is often complimented by a "War Eagle" hat on Saturdays just to show my fandom and, in all honesty, their secondary logo looks more fierce than our primary.
Truth be told, the Boston College Eagles do not have much in common with the Tigers of Auburn. Jordan Hare stadium is nearly twice the size of Alumni, situated in a rural college town as opposed to a rich, snobby Boston suburb.
Their fan base is rapid and tailgates for days, whereas Eagles' fans get in about three hours of grilling, if the weather is good. Up until this year, the SEC's strength over the ACC could be substantiated with statistics and facts, though this years Sagarin rankings and this weeks 3-1, ACC over SEC record tell a different tale.
After watching my beloved Eagles battle their way to the ACC Championship Game for the second straight year, though, I have noticed a glaring similarity between this team and the Auburn Tigers back in the days when they won the Iron Bowl and played on New Years Day (or eve): a running back who does not give up.
When I first watched "Cadillac" Williams in 2001 on television, and in person, people remarked that "his feet just keep moving," "that he does give up after contact," and that "he plows right through that line." People were in awe of his tenacity and the sheer force that he ran with; it was, after all, what made him such a sought after recruit.
At the end of his freshman year, while sharing time at running back for a team that went on to lose in the Peach Bowl to UNC, he went on to average 68.2 yards per game over nine games. The 5'11" Williams amassed 614 total yards in 120 attempts and six for touchdowns. Though he set no school records that season, his totals of 741 attempts and 45 TDs were, as well as his 17 individual six-pointers his junior season.
As Cadillac put together a record career at Auburn, eclipsing the likes of Bo Jackson, a six-hour drive southeast was young Montel Harris, gearing up for an lightly heralded high school career.
Unlike Williams, Montel was not on the ESPN Watchlist, nor was he on many teams radars. At one inch shorter than Williams, Harris only earned 2nd Team Honors at Trinity Christian Academy and was satisfied with a full-ride to Duke. That was until one Jeffrey Jagodzinski came a'knocking.
Two weeks were left until national signing day when Montel Harris switched his pledge to Boston College, in a similar fashion to when Cadillac Williams dumped Tennessee. Spurned by other FBS schools, Boston College has been delighted with the results as Harris has played with an inspiration unrivaled by Cadillac.
Behind an Offensive Line that was said to be a team weakness coming into the season, the running back, a true freshman, has gained 798 yards hard fought yards. While the team has played 12 games total, he has only managed 10 or more carries in six games. That is because Harris, a two star recruit, is sharing time with Josh Haden, the BC tattoo'ed brother of a UF cornerback that came out of high school with four stars.
Starting the season as number 2 on the depth chart was no issue for Harris, neither was stepping up when Haden got hurt in the third game of the year. In that game, Montel rushed thirteen times for 112 yards and caught three passes.
ESPN considers his "coming out party" his 9th game of the year, against his hometown Florida State Seminoles. Here, Harris became known on national television, just like Cadillac jumped from No. 3 on the Auburn depth chart in the 8th game of his freshman season.
While Cadillac's season ended the next game, after carrying the ball 41 times, Harris has trudged on at No. 2 on the depth charts. He followed up FSU with only 9 carries for 30 yards the next week and, after Haden was re-injured, put together a stellar game against Maryland.
This past weekend, in a game to decide the ACC Atlantic Champion, Harris put together his third 100+ yard rushing game, bouncing off of tackles, returning kicks, and catching one pass.
On one particular play, he carried a Maryland defender on his back from the line for four additional yards until three other players assisted the tackle. Harris needed fewer than 100 yards to break a freshman rushing record, and he annihilated it.
While Harris may not have the stars or recognition that Williams did, he is certainly on his way. Highlight reel plays and an NFL salary look more than certain in his future, and the Eagles future looks brighter because of it.
In his breakout game, the announcers did not make any comparisons. I am sure they never dawned on them. There may even be more appropriate ones; however, for this writer there is one image ingrained in my memory that Harris brings up every time he touches the ball. The manner in which Harris plows through lines, shifts axis and shakes off defenders is reminiscent of only one collegiate running back: Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.
In 2001, the car company Cadillac debuted the Escalade as Auburn featured a new star running back, now playing in the NFL. In 2008, Boston College has found its way into the ACC Championship game behind questionable lines, numerous injuries, and a team of "over achievers."
While the winner of the MVP award for the Super Bowl rolls of in a new Cadillac, win or lose on on Saturday, Boston College will roll out of Tampa with it's own, brand new Cadillac.