Stalwart Silva ready for 'Canes
Eagles' free safety a consistent weapon
He has been there all season for Boston College, a constant on a unit where change - dictated by injury as much as anything else - has forced defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani to mix and match, often on the fly.
It was that way a year ago, as well, when Jamie Silva started 11 of 12 regular-season games at free safety.
On Saturday, one phase of Silva's career at Boston College will end. The kid from East Providence - who flirted with going to the Ivy League, and listened and then rejected an offer to play at Indiana and a few other schools - will finish his collegiate regular-season career against Miami at Alumni Stadium.
"He's just done a great job for us," BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski said yesterday as he talked about Silva, who has been named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in the country.
Other honors, including All-America consideration, could be forthcoming.
Silva again has had a solid statistical season, leading the Eagles in tackles (101) and interceptions (5). On a defense in which DeJuan Tribble, Nick Larkin, Brian Toal, B.J. Raji, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Alex Albright, and Tyronne Pruitt have been sidelined at various points, Silva has been the anchor.
Silva said the individual recognition is a nice offshoot of the team's success.
"I always had confidence in myself," he said. "It's definitely one of the things you need.
"I've always been one of my biggest critics."
The criticism this season has been muted by overall aggressive play that has solidified the Eagles' secondary.
"He's been a rock," said Spaziani. "Just a tough, tough kid who plays through everything."
Silva dealt with bumps, bruises, and other ailments as the Eagles breezed through the first eight games. Back-to-back defeats to Florida State and Maryland slowed the Eagles, but they were back on track with a 20-17 win over Clemson last Saturday that clinched the ACC Atlantic Division crown and earned them a spot in the ACC title game.
Beating Miami will not affect the Eagles' chances of winning the ACC title, but there is little doubt as to BC's focus.
"We see this as a must game," said Silva. "We want this as bad as we wanted the Clemson game."
One more win will give BC 10 for the season, something that has been done only once in BC history. A win will also end a losing streak against Miami that dates to Nov. 23, 1984, and Doug Flutie's touchdown pass that beat the Hurricanes as time ran out.
Yesterday, Silva was asked if he was familiar with the Flutie Game.
"I probably heard about it before I came out of my mom," he joked, pointing out that he was born Dec. 14, 1984. "That's one play I will always remember."
What he hopes to remember from Saturday in his final regular-season home game at The Heights is another milestone for a program that is intent on making its own historic footprints.
"I've enjoyed every moment," he said. "Now we want to go out with a bang. There's a lot left we want to accomplish."
As to his future, he said the dream of playing in the NFL still remains.
"I'd like to play at the next level," said Silva, who will wear No. 31 Saturday in honor of Jay McGillis, a former BC defensive back who died of leukemia in 1992. (Silva was awarded the Jay McGillis Scholarship at the spring game.) "The focus now is obviously on this season, winning these next three games. But this is probably the biggest audition for the next level.
"It has been a dream of mine my whole life. Hopefully, I will reach it."
Jagodzinski says he will be prudent about using injured players against Miami, with the ultimate goal being to win the ACC championship the following week. On the injured list yesterday were tackle Gosder Cherilus, and linebackers Mark Herzlich, Pruitt, and Dunbar. All should play against the Hurricanes. Jagodzinski was hopeful Tribble, who suffered a strained knee in practice last week, would be able to play in the ACC title game . . . The only starter definitely out is Albright, who broke two bones in his arm against Clemson last week, and had surgery Monday. "He's probably done for the season," said Jagodzinski . . . Jagodzinski hopes to have the bubble that covers Alumni Stadium up by next week, which would allow the Eagles to practice for the postseason without worrying about weather issues.