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One of the nation’s most productive defensive linemen is returning for his senior season at Boston College, giving an adrenaline shot to the core of young talent in the program.
BC junior Zach Allen told Yahoo Sports in an interview on Thursday that he’s coming back to play his senior year at Boston College. Allen finished last season with 100 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and was considered a consensus second-round pick by NFL evaluators.
“It was a difficult decision,” Allen said. “The main reason was that I love my teammates and we have so much talent returning and are about to do something special. The main reason for coming back was to be a part of that.”
Allen’s decision gives the Eagles 17 returning starters next season. Boston College (7-6) won five of its final six regular-season games behind a bevy of young talent, including ACC Rookie of the Year AJ Dillon. The Eagles also got strong seasons out of redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Brown, freshman All-American center Ben Petrula and have multiple other NFL prospects on defense like linebacker Connor Strachan and defensive back Will Harris.
“The fact that we bring all those guys back, and so many guys have playing time and have been through the fire has been huge,” Allen said. “I’m excited to get back to work with those guys. Our goal is an ACC championship, and I’m excited to see that through with these guys.”
Boston College coach Steve Addazio said that it was a “travesty” and a “joke” that Allen received only honorable mention All-ACC honors this year. Allen is a 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end who finished with the second-highest tackles total of any defensive lineman in the country. (Only Stanford’s Harrison Phillips with 103 had more, and he declared for the NFL draft on Thursday). Eagles’ star end Harold Landry, a projected first-round pick, battled injuries for much of the year. That left more attention to Allen, who developed a reputation for being stout against the run and still had six sacks and six quarterback hurries.
“He loves the program, and he loves his teammates,” Addazio said. “Our whole team, they feel there’s a great chemistry and they feel passionate about where we are and where we’re headed. Zach really values his degree, and it’s important to he and his family.”
Allen said he’s on track to graduate in December with a degree in finance and carries a 3.6 grade-point average. Along with team goals, Allen also wants to prove that he’s a first-round pick. Allen doesn’t turn 21 until August, and the decision to return allows him to grow bigger and stronger. Former NFL defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is Allen’s position coach. Allen said he’s looking to work with Pasqualoni to improve his outside pass rush. He also wants to get his degree and relish the college experience for another year.
“I love Boston College,” Allen said. “I love my friends. It’s not like a lot of other places. I don’t want to rush it. I want to play with my teammates and hang out with my friends and get the most out of BC.”
With Allen returning as a defensive linchpin and Dillon the centerpiece of an experienced offense, this projects to be the most talented team that Addazio has had at Boston College.
“I’ve never been more happy going to work,” Addazio said. “We have such a tremendous energy right now, and a confidence. I think we can play with anybody. We have a real chance now. We’re not going backwards.”