Herzlich eyes job market
Senior Bowl next, Combine follows
SAN FRANCISCO — It was his last hurrah as a college football player and Mark Herzlich wanted to savor the moment. The Boston College linebacker had squeezed so much into a five-year career in Chestnut Hill. Not only as a player, but as a person.
Until Herzlich was slowed by his bout with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, he was on the fast track to be a first-round NFL draft pick.
Herzlich’s comeback this season has been a source of inspiration not only for the Eagles, but for college football fans everywhere, as he became the poster boy for fighting and overcoming overwhelming odds.
Which was why BC’s game against Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last night had even more significance than simply the final game of his Eagles career.
“You know it seems like I have been here forever,’’ Herzlich said Saturday as the Eagles went through a walkthrough at AT&T Park. “I love it. It’s going to be strange when I leave. I have to go out and find a job.’’
After the game, Herzlich expressed frustration at losing. “It’s like the first game of the season,’’ he said. “We prepared for more than 40 days and we lost. It’s frustrating.
“But everything I’ve been through . . . my focus for the last 45 days was to win the football game, but when you put it in perspective, there’s more to life than football.’’
Herzlich hopes his upcoming job is in the NFL. He now will shift his focus to preparing to play at the next level. He will head to Alabama in a few weeks and play — along with teammate Anthony Castonzo, an offensive lineman — in the Senior Bowl.
After that he will head to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, where he will be tested and evaluated. Aside from the cancer, Herzlich went through this season recovering from broken bones in his foot and hand. Projections vary from an optimistic late first-round selection to the third or fourth round.
How Herzlich performs in the Senior Bowl and Combine will help determine where he is selected.
Herzlich’s recovery and his ability to come back and play at such a high level has been called “miraculous’’ by Eagles coach Frank Spaziani.
And while last night’s 20-13 loss won’t determine very much in terms of his draft status, it was still a chance for Herzlich to showcase his talents to a national audience on prime-time television. Ditto for Castonzo, who is projected by many to be a first-round pick.
For all of the Eagles, last night was almost a surreal experience of bridging two seasons.
“It was weird,’’ said Herzlich. “We were watching tape of the game against Syracuse [BC’s last game Nov. 27] and it seemed like it was last season.’’
Looking ahead Spaziani did his best to try and bridge the seasons, but even he did not know what kind of performance he would see against a Nevada team that entered as a 7-point favorite, based not only on the Wolf Pack’s 12-1 record, but their victory over Boise State.
The Eagles, who were playing in their 12th straight bowl game, are still dominated by youth, led by freshman quarterback Chase Rettig and an offensive line filled with freshmen and sophomores who have shown potential through a season of streaks —a 2-5 start, followed by a five-game winning streak.
Tranquill mulls future Offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill said that he would wait a few days before making a decision on whether he will return . . . Although running back Montel Harris had been cleared to play following a knee injury suffered in a 17-13 victory over Virginia on Nov. 20, he spent last night on the sidelines.