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Jeff Hafley: Position battles, camp competition

Jeff Hafley is as excited as ever for the 2023 season, as Boston College has had an impressive training camp with Week 1 nearing against Northern Illinois.

“The attitude, the energy, as good as we’ve ever had it. We’re getting older – last year we were a young team, first and second-year players, had a lot of guys injured, and now they’re back,” Hafley said in a recent interview. “They’re older, they’re more mature, the level accountability, the team policing themselves, the ownership, and then when you get on the field there’s more competition.”

While the Emmett Morehead's and Christian Mahogany's of the team have their jobs secured, Hafley later boasted about the competition that’s been brought to camp this season – which in his words is unparalleled to the past three seasons he’s been in charge.

“Guys are fighting for their jobs. In the last two or three training camps we’ve had, it’s pretty much been where the starters are decided and the backups are the backups. We’re pretty into the thick of camp here, and there’s still numerous positions where I couldn’t tell you who’s starting. And that’s a good thing, because guys are pushing each other. We’ve never had that before.”

Hafley has raved about the sudden depth the Eagles have back across at the board all camp, and rightfully so – injuries last season depleted their depth in a major way and was arguably the biggest contributor to their 3-9 record. He’s revealed several battles in camp for starting jobs:

At strong safety, LIU transfer Victor Nelson Jr. and Dartmouth transfer John Pupel battle for the spot while at the defensive end position opposite of Donovan Ezeiruaku, Neto Okpala and Shitta Sillah are the frontrunners for the spot -- Hafley has also mentioned Edwin Kolenge as a possible option. AJ Black additionally mentions a tight cornerback battle in his recent story.

“You wanna create a culture where guys are uncomfortable, and that’s gonna make them work harder ... It makes everybody better,” Hafley said. “This is the start of that, and again we have not had that here.”

The offensive line is possibly the hottest topic given last year's struggles, and Hafley has emphasized the heavy need for lineman beyond the starting five – he’s spoken highly of the leaders in Drew Kendall and Mahogany but also induces great enthusiasm to the depth that was depleted last year due to injuries. The new transfers Kyle Hergel (Texas State) and Logan Taylor (Virginia) add to the core of the two leading the way along with Ozzy Trapillo, Kevin Cline, Jack Conley, and a large slew of others. Hafley said at media day the starting five is selected, though would not give intel on the details of that line. We do have an idea of it though: Black predicts the starting line will be Kendall (center), Mahogany (right guard), Hergel (left guard), Taylor (right tackle), and Trapillo (left tackle).

Quinn Riley, Chief Editor, to Eagles Daily. He may be reached at & @QuinnRileyBB
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