For Fox, being a starter at BC is more than special

The package containing the highlights of Chris Fox’s career has some dust on it. The player who came out of Xaverian as an All-Scholastic wide receiver, running back, and defensive back has maintained a low profile the last few years. His collegiate scrapbook contains primarily blank pages.

When Fox, the son of former Patriots defensive back Tim Fox, arrived at Boston College in the fall of 2006, the spotlight was dimmed. He was redshirted his freshman year; nothing unusual about that. But in the spring game the following year, he broke his ankle so severely that another season was all but lost.

Two years ago, Fox made it back to the playing field, primarily as a special teams player. He was filling that role last year when he injured his collarbone midseason and was done again.

Fox was finally healthy this fall, but he was now a fifth-year senior, and his career at The Heights was more about footnotes than highlights — until injuries wiped out half of BC’s starting secondary.

With safety Wes Davis (neck) and cornerback DeLeon Gause (knee) sidelined, Fox suddenly had his turn in prime time, and he delivered in last Saturday’s 16-10 win over Clemson. He will be the starting boundary cornerback again when the Eagles face Wake Forest Saturday.

“It’s extremely gratifying to finally get my chance,’’ said Fox. “It was tough to put so much time and effort over the years and not get what you expected yourself to be doing. To get my chance to do something I wanted to be doing is great. To do it very well is even better.’’

BC coach Frank Spaziani understands the mentality of players who do not move into starting roles right away. He also appreciates players like Fox, who do not sulk about it or lose their enthusiasm.

“The fact that he wants to come back under those conditions says a lot about Chris,’’ said Spaziani.

Fox has embraced the new role.

“There is a lot more responsibility, which I actually like,’’ he said. “I never felt I was making as much of an impact as I was supposed to be. After the game on Saturday, I finally felt that way.’’

Fox’s career at BC has included stops at all the defensive back positions, some looks at wide receiver, and last spring there was even serious consideration given to moving him to running back.

“I thought that was coming into play in the fall,’’ said Fox.

But Spaziani decided he needed depth in the defensive backfield.

“I love to play boundary corner,’’ said Fox, “which is a little more physical. I like coming up and being able to hit guys and also cover them.’’

Fox said his elevation to a starting role drew more reaction from his family and friends than from him.

“A lot of my good friends had been coming to our games for four years and they said that they never had had this much fun,’’ he said. “It was an epiphany for them. They said, ‘This is way better than it used to be.’ ’’

Fox’s friends knew about the struggle he endured. So did his family, including his father, who has provided guidance.

“He has something to say every game,’’ said Fox. “Whether it was when I was in high school or returning kicks or playing corner or on punt returns. I try to take his advice as much as possible. But the advice he gave me for when I was in the game wasn’t as important as when I wasn’t in the game.’’

Fox knows he has paid his dues.

“You have to realize that you do have to put in your time and wait your turn,’’ said Fox. “My dad made me realize that.’’

Now Fox’s turn has finally come, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

Senior linebacker Mark Herzlich, whose football career went into eclipse last season as he battled cancer and who has slowly returned to form this season as he dealt with a broken foot and a broken wrist, now is thinking about the future, i.e. playing at the next level.

“My dad is starting to get some names of agents,’’ said Herzlich, “and I’ve been invited to the Senior Bowl, and then I’ll start thinking about the [NFL] combine. So some things are going on.’’

Herzlich said he feels as good as he has all season. And it has shown. He had his best performance of the year in the win over Clemson. And he is intent on helping the Eagles make it to a bowl game for the 12th straight season.

But after the BC part of his career ends, Herzlich hopes there is a next level. A year ago, such talk was more dream than reality.

Wide receiver/holder Billy Flutie was on crutches yesterday with a pulled hamstring that could sideline him for a few more weeks . . . Offensive tackle Rich Lapham (left knee) is also out for the Wake Forest game. Spaziani said he was “week by week’’ . . . Gause had surgery on his left knee, but the injury was not to the ACL, so the timetable for Gause’s return could be more short-term than long-term.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at  

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