CHARLOTTE — Steve Addazio had done the fifth-year transfer thing. He was over it. Last fall, there were young quarterbacks on his Boston College roster who were ready to prove their worth, so he decided to eschew the market and give his underclassmen a shot.
“It was chaos,” Addazio said Friday at the ACC Kickoff. “It was chaos! I don’t know what to tell you.”
The Eagles went 3-9 despite having the country’s fourth-best defense, as the offense failed to score more than 17 points in any conference game.
An early injury to season-opening starter Darius Wade was key; Boston College simply didn’t have the depth behind him to become any kind of threat with the football.
Addazio learned his lesson.
“You can’t go into a season without two quarterbacks who have real, tangible game experience,” he said.
Soon after the 2015 season ended, Boston College got a call from former Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles, a graduate student with more than 5,000 career passing yards who was eligible to play immediately upon transferring.
Addazio spoke with Wildcats coach Mark Stoops, watched Towles’ film and determined that the fifth-year senior would be “the perfect fit” for his team.
This came two years after Addazio decided to lean on fifth-year transfer Tyler Murphy — another SEC kid (Florida) — to run the offense. Murphy helped the Eagles to their second straight seven-win season while racking up nearly 3,000 total yards.
The one-season gap between Murphy and Towles was due to program politics and Adazzio’s miscalculation.
“I didn’t want it to be like we didn’t have faith in Darius,” Addazio said. “No matter how you cut these things, they get sensitive.”
“I closed my mind to it and said, ‘Okay, it’s Darius’ deal,'” Addazio said. “I want to develop a young guy. I don’t want to keep bringing fifth-year guys in here. I did it once with Murphy. I didn’t want to do it again.”
It was, obviously, a “mistake”; one Addazio rectified by bringing Towles aboard to compete with Wade for this year’s starting spot.
Some players are already seeing shades of Murphy in the 6-foot-4 quarterback who can — as Addazio constantly reminded the media Friday — run a sub-4.6-second 40-yard dash.
“Natural-born leader,” star linebacker Matt Milano said. “Just his presence. The way he talks. The way he came in. He fit right in with the organization. The players like him. The people like him. It was a positive first impression.”
Running back Myles Willis also called Towles a “natural leader,” adding that Towles could follow the same path as Murphy.
“It’s tough to come in any times as a transfer, but if you’re coming in as a quarterback, you’re expected to be a leader of the team,” Willis said. “It takes a special type of guy to be able to come in and do that. It worked well with Tyler, and hopefully it works well with Patrick Towles.”
Towles’ name has been thrown around NFL draft discussions over the past few years. If he earns the starting role at Boston College, his stock will likely get a nice boost with the help of new offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler, who last held the same position at Virginia Tech and notably coached quarterbacks for the Detroit Lions at age 33 in 2008.
Addazio said his entire quarterback group has “improved dramatically” since Loeffler arrived.
The across-the-board upgrade doesn’t do much to settle a tight competition between Towles and Wade, but at least there’s more than one strong candidate for the head coach to choose from.
“In hindsight — it’s almost like, ‘Duh!’ — it didn’t pan out for me (last year),” Addazio said. “Darius got hurt, and what we had left was a bunch of redshirt freshmen that had never seen the light of a field. I said to myself, ‘Okay, I can’t do that again.’”
Notable quarterbacks who have made the jump from the SEC to the ACC over the past three years:
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