Adams, Hazard to Lead Young Receivers

Adams and Hazard (AP)

Last year at this time, Boston College was preparing to commence its 2002 campaign with three returning wide receivers who had caught a pass in 2001: Jamal Burke, Keith Hemmings, and Grant Adams. This year, the Eagles return just two wide-outs that have <b>ever</b> caught a pass at the collegiate level: juniors Adams and Joel Hazard. <BR> <B>Free Preview of Insider Content!</b>

2002's three returning receivers, however, combined for 35 receptions, while Adams alone hauled in 37 passes last season. Add in Hazard's 19 catches for 231 yards and the fact that Adams' 37 receptions for 542 yards were second on the team and would have led the Eagles in 2001, and this Boston College team returns much more at wide-out than the 2002 squad did.

As the only 2003 Eagle receivers with any collegiate game-time experience, Adams and Hazard will be the unquestioned leaders at the wide-out position this year. Both look to build on their 2002 performances.

Adams and Hazard both turned in strong 2002 campaigns, but they officially announced their presence to a national audience (okay, well the game was on ESPN…) in the Motor City Bowl, when Adams caught 5 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns and Hazard reeled in five balls for 66 yards and a touchdown. Hazard also added one rush for 19 yards.

In their Motor City Bowl performances, Grant Adams and Joel Hazard showed flashes of the brilliance that Boston College fans should expect this season. Of course, we would have seen more, but they ran too fast for the cameras…

This speed, especially that of Hazard, will give the Eagles their fastest 1-2 punch in years, forcing defensive backfields to guard against the deep play, leaving large holes underneath for RB Derrick Knight and tight end Sean Ryan to gain huge chunks of yardage.

Beyond Adams and Hazard, the Eagles' third through sixth pass catchers this year will be three redshirt freshmen and a sophomore who played safety last season.

Fortunately, those four are quite possibly the most talented second and third-stringers in the program's history. Even with prize recruit Dorien Bryant attending prep school instead of Boston College in the fall, the Eagles' receiving corps features depth previously unimaginable at the Heights.

The two-deep will feature standout 2002 recruits in redshirt freshmen Tony Gonzalez and Jason Lilly. Though untested, both present tremendous match-up problems for opposing defensive backs, whether as replacements for the starters or as receivers in three or four-wide sets. Gonzalez possesses game-breaker speed, while Lilly's combination of speed and size makes him a serious threat over the middle. Both will provide their share of big plays this year and in the future.

Redshirt freshman Taylor Sele and sophomore Nathaniel Hasselbeck complete the three-deep for the Eagles. Both have the ability to contribute this year with solid play.

Sele completes the trio of 2002 recruits that BC expects to anchor one of the most formidable WR corps in the Big East for the next four years. He has game-breaking speed and has been hitting the weights hard this offseason. He should be a productive backup for any of the top four.

Hasselbeck is the only receiver among the underclassmen four who has caught a pass at the collegiate level. Of course, his only career reception occurred while playing safety against Navy in 2002, when he returned an interception for 14 yards. Tom O'Brien moved Nate to WR this summer to provide leadership and experience to his young receiver corps. Although he looked somewhat lost in his early practices, Hasselbeck will make some plays in 2003, as his competitiveness and speed will overcome his lack of experience as a wide receiver.

The 2003 Boston College Eagles feature a primarily raw and untested group of receivers. They will be led by juniors Grant Adams and Joel Hazard, the lone pass-catchers with collegiate experience. However, talent will trump inexperience and this will quickly develop into the deepest collection of receivers to don the maroon and gold in years. Just don't blink, as you might miss them…

Aaron Rose is a staff writer for EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at InsideTheEagles@yahoo.com

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