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BC's Harris is down again

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / October 6, 2011

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At first, it didn’t look like a big deal. A signature 26-yard run against Wake Forest that set up Boston College’s only touchdown in a 27-19 loss Saturday.

It made Montel Harris the leading rusher in Eagles history. But the 5-foot-10-inch, 207-pound senior, coming off two surgical procedures on his left knee, was slow getting up.

When Harris lined up in the backfield on the next series, it seemed any injury to his knee was minor. But two carries that produced only 3 yards suggested otherwise.

And yesterday, before the Eagles went out to practice, coach Frank Spaziani shook his head in dismay as he said, “The doctors took an MRI on Montel’s knee and they have shut him down for this week.’’

Spaziani was not sure of the long-term projections.

“We have to look at some things,’’ said Spaziani, who must dig deep into his depth chart for this week’s game at Clemson, since backup Andre Williams sprained his right ankle against Wake Forest and is iffy.

If Williams is out, too, the Eagles will be down to redshirt freshman Tajh Kimble, sophomore Rolandan “Deuce’’ Finch, and junior Mike Javorski.

“You know Deuce?’’ said Spaziani, looking for some black humor. “He’s now known as Uno.’’

The BC running back situation has been a M*A*S*H unit most of the season. Harris was the go-to guy when training camp began, as he appeared fully recovered from the first arthroscopic procedure after injuring his knee in last year’s regular-season finale against Virginia. But he reinjured the knee in a scrimmage and was sidelined another month.

After a cameo appearance against UMass in Week 4, Harris appeared to be back at full speed against Wake Forest, picking up 108 yards, including the record-breaking run at the start of the fourth quarter.

Now everything is in limbo again. Spaziani said the break this week, plus a bye week next week, could put Harris back in play when the Eagles resume at Virginia Tech Oct. 22.

But if the MRI reveals more extensive damage, Harris’s season - and perhaps his career at BC - could be over, although a medical redshirt remains a possibility.

That would leave the running game in a dire situation.

Williams was the insurance policy at the start of the season, a productive back with star potential.

Finch and Kimble were regarded more as backs of the future than the present, and Javorski was the emergency back. Now all three may be in play, in the toughest of all situations - a road game against a top 10-caliber team.

When he met with his coaches yesterday, Spaziani said, they did some thinking out loud about the worst-case scenario - that the Eagles, already minus Harris and Williams, lose Finch and Kimble as well as Javorski.

Spaziani said it was the ultimate “what if,’’ but the possibility of the Eagles running their offense against Clemson with no running backs on the field has been considered, which seems ridiculous.

But when you have a 1-4 team that has been hit with a tsunami of injuries, defections, and other ailments among the players and coaching staff, anything seems possible.

The good news for BC is that offensive guard Nathan Richman, who has had a series of back problems all season, was back practicing for the second consecutive day.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at