Boston College Eagles: AJ Dillon and offense ready to take center stage


Led by sophomore running back AJ Dillon, the Boston College Eagles offense hopes to soar to even greater heights in 2018.

After years of stellar defensive play anchoring the team, the Boston College Eagles offense gained ground in 2017 thanks to the play of AJ Dillon.

2018 promises to be even better for the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball.

Dillon burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2017 when he ran for 272 yards and four touchdowns in a victory over the Louisville Cardinals. Prior to that game, Dillon had been splitting time with the since-transferred Jon Hilliman, carrying only 88 times for 336 yards.

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Once the legs began to consistently churn, the yards accumulated and Dillon finished the season with 1569 yards and 14 touchdowns. Enough is thought of the young man that he was recently voted preseason ACC player of the year.

Dillon might be the top player returning, but the Eagles will have plenty of other weapons. The defense should be solid — plenty of key players return on that side of the ball — and the offense will be expected to follow suit.

Backed by a returning quarterback, multiple returning receivers and a veteran offensive line, the Boston College Eagles should continue to make noise in what should be a competitive ACC.

Boston College Eagles key players on offense

Dillon might be the focal point of the offense, but a lot of eyes will be on redshirt sophomore Anthony Brown.

Brown was making strides last season as a freshman before a knee-injury ended his 2017 campaign in game nine.

A threat with his legs as well as his arm, Brown completed 50% of his passes last season. He threw nine touchdowns against eight interceptions and ran for 200 yards. Brown was brought along slowly but should see opportunities to grow with an experienced receiving corps.

The top of the list belongs to tight end Tommy Sweeney. After leading the team in receptions (36), yards (512) and receiving touchdowns (4), Sweeney was named to the all-ACC third team in 2017.

Brown will have help on the outside as well with three key receivers. Redshirt sophomore Kobay White is at the top of this list. White had 28 receptions for 347 and two touchdowns in 2017.

Senior Jeff Smith should be a major contributor as well, bringing with him 22 receptions for 278 yards last season.

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The most electrifying of the bunch might be senior Michael Walker. Walker only had 11 catches for 118 yards last season, a number that will hopefully be improved upon in 2018. It is the return skills of Walker, however, in which fans should pay close attention.

Walker led the nation in combined return yards (kick and punt) in 2017 with 1203. He was recently named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list for 2018.

A veteran offensive line — with possibly seven players vying for starting spots — will help pave the way for Dillon and protect Brown. Jon Baker is back from an injury that kept him out of all of 2017. His return should help a line featuring Sam Schmal and Ben Petrula only improve on the 226.4 rushing yards per game the team had last season.

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The ACC is again pretty stacked, but the weapons on offense plus a veteran defense should help the Eagles improve on last season’s 7-6 (4-4) record. The Eagles take flight in 2018 on September 1 when they host the University of Massachusetts.