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BC Players Surprised By Haden And Tuggle Transfers

10.28.09 at 9:46 pm ET
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It isn’t uncommon for college athletes to transfer. It is the nature of being young and having expectations, either on the playing field or on campus, and then having those expectations not work out. For some players that is the time to move on.

But not a lot of players do that in the middle of the season, as is the case with redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle and sophomore running back Josh Haden, who announced yesterday that they are leaving Boston College.

“You don’t want guys to jump ship before the ship’s even landed,” defensive end Alex Albright said. “That’s their decision. If they want to get an early decision of where they are going to go, then more power to them. I wish them the best of luck.”

For the most part, the rest of the BC squad was taken by surprise.

“I was surprised. I like Tuggle, I like Josh. It is hard to see them go,” freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie said. “It is tough to see anyone go, they are good guys. They are good football players, you know. You’d like to keep them on the team, but that is their decision.”

The writing was on the wall for Tuggle. He began the year as the starter and gradually ceded playing time to Shinskie as the 25-year-old gained confidence and recovered from cracked ribs he suffered in camp. Shinskie took over the full-time starter status in the fourth game of the year against Wake Forest and has not really looked back.

“It was pretty much a shot out of the blue,” senior co-captain Rich Gunnell said. “Like, Tuggle, I didn’t know he was leaving or anything, and Josh, he got hurt and wasn’t too happy, so you could kind of foresee that maybe he was thinking about leaving.”

What was especially telling for Tuggle was in the sixth game of the season at Virginia Tech. With Shinskie laying a goose egg as the Eagles got pounded, coach Frank Spaziani decided to yank the former pitcher. The natural thought, to that point in the season at least, would have been to go to Tuggle. Instead, Spaziani went to 18-year-old true freshman Mike Marscovetra for mop up duties against the Hokies.

“We brought [Marscovetra] in because we feel that he has some potential to make some plays and do certain things that might be more beneficial to us down the road,” Spaziani said the week following the Virginia Tech loss. “It is not like there is massive separation between any of the quarterbacks, there really isn’t. That was just a decision we made.”

Tuggle perhaps did not see it that way. With three quarterbacks all in their same year of eligibility, it was probably a foregone conclusion that one of them would ship out. Tuggle saw himself at the bottom of the ladder and felt it was time to go.

“With Justin’s situation, three guys competing at quarterback, I guess you can kind of expect one to leave but you have no idea what’s going to happen going down the road or anything,” Albright said.

Haden leaving is more of a surprise in a straight football sense. The “1-2 punch” with Montel Harris (or Double H: The Horse and Hound, as we liked to call them here) was an effective tool for the Eagles, especially with three freshman quarterbacks finding their way. From talking to the players, it seems that there had been some rumblings that Haden might leave after he got hurt in the NC State game. For a memory recall, after Haden went down against the Wolfpack, Harris took it upon himself to carry the Eagles and set two school records with 264 yards and five touchdowns. When the guy ahead of you on the depth chart goes out and does something like that, it has to be hard to feel that you are still going to be relevant.

“Josh, when he first got hurt, you kind of heard him talking about it, but I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Gunnell said.

It is hard to tell yet if the transfers will be much of a psychological blow to a team that is still in search of a true identity. Some of the younger players on the depth chart, such as true freshman running back Rolandan Finch, will have to step up. Older players such as junior fullback James McCluskey and senior running back Jeff Smith also may see additional duty.

“You just have guys step up, like, last week, Montel went down for a couple of plays and we threw the ball,” Shinskie said. “Your game plan might change a little bit, but we have other guys like Jeff Smith and Rolandan Finch that need to step up and they are going to step up because they are athletes and they play for BC.”

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