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BC notebook

Hospital visit hits home for Herzlich

By Damin Esper
Globe Correspondent / January 8, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO — Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich went to the University of California-San Francisco’s Children’s Hospital on Thursday to visit Matt, a 20-year-old with Ewing’s sarcoma, the same form of bone cancer that Herzlich was diagnosed with nearly two years ago.

Herzlich missed the 2009 season and had a titanium rod inserted into his left femur to stabilize the bone. Amazingly, Herzlich, who originally was told he might not be able to run again, returned this season and ranked second on the Eagles with four interceptions and third with 60 tackles.

“[Matt] is, unfortunately, not doing as well in his treatment as I did,’’ Herzlich told the crowd at the St. Francis Hotel for the kickoff luncheon for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. “He’s nearing the end. He’s holding on to see our game on Sunday night. We included him in our team prayer. Please include him in your prayers.’’

Nevada coach Chris Ault told the crowd how moved he was by Herzlich’s story.

“When I first found out who we were playing, I told my players about Mark,’’ Ault said. “He’s an inspiration for everybody.’’

Ault then turned to face Herzlich, who was seated near the dais. “Mark, I’m proud of you, buddy,’’ Ault said.

Giving back In keeping with the theme of the bowl, BC players and coaches will serve meals this afternoon at St. Anthony’s Dining Room, a local charity that feeds more than one million poor people every year. Nevada players and coaches will do the same at the Glide Memorial Church.

Bowl organizers have announced that some proceeds from the game will be donated to both organizations, as well as the San Francisco Food Bank.

Get me out of here! Because BC played in the game (known then as the Emerald Bowl) last year, only the freshmen took the trip to Alcatraz.

“It was awesome,’’ said wide receiver Bobby Swigert. “I really enjoyed it, it was really cool. It’s a great experience going there.’’

Those who take a tour are locked in a cell for a brief time.

“They locked me in one where it’s completely pitch black in there,’’ Swigert said. “They locked me in for 30 seconds and it felt like an hour. It was scary. I don’t know how people did that.’’

Immediate impact Swigert, who leads the Eagles with 36 receptions, 494 receiving yards, and four TD catches, started just two games but clearly has become the team’s No. 1 receiving threat.

“Coming in, I really didn’t think I was going to get to play that much,’’ he said. “[However], one of the reasons I came here is I knew they were losing a lot of people and I’d at least get a chance.’’

Said coach Frank Spaziani, “He’s been a good addition for us. He was certainly mature enough to play for us early. And he’s gotten better all year. Bobby’s a quality football player and he’s got a good future ahead of him.’’

Swigert’s biggest game came against Notre Dame Oct. 2, when he caught seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.

“You become more and more comfortable,’’ Swigert said. “Especially the games. They’re so much faster, you can’t imitate the game speed. The more games I get, the more time on the field, I definitely become more comfortable.’’

Bearing gift Spaziani presented a gift to the bowl organizers, a mirror with a picture of BC, in appreciation for inviting the Eagles for the second consecutive year and third time in the nine-year history of the game. This caught Ault’s attention.

“Frank, that was a bold move giving them presents,’’ Ault said. “Your last two times out here, you didn’t give Jack diddly, did ya?’’

The remark drew the most laughs of the afternoon.