BOSTON—Boston College recruit Kevin Pierre-Louis has had a stressful year so far.
Besides picking a college, enrolling in January to get a head start on his schoolwork and football, Pierre-Louis spent three days waiting to hear from relatives in Haiti to find out if they survived the Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed at least 112,000 people.
"We couldn't contact them at first," he said Wednesday. "Thankfully, everyone's fine."
After the quake, he said, they were debating whether to stay at home or leave, and "a couple hours later, the building wound up falling down." His relatives are U.S. citizens, and they own sugar cane fields and an ice factory, and they were able to get out after the disaster.
Pierre-Louis also made a lucky choice: He had been considering visiting his family -- about 30 aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins -- around the time of the quake but decided to stay in Connecticut to prepare for the beginning of school. He hasn't been to Haiti since he was 9.
"It was an amazing experience for me," he said. "It doesn't look that spectacular, but I looked at it a lot differently than the outside world would."
Pierre-Louis had committed to Boston College as a junior, but he reconsidered after coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired for pursuing an NFL job. When former assistant Frank Spaziani was promoted, Pierre-Louis decided anew to go to BC over Stanford.
"It gave me a chance to take a step back," said Pierre-Louis, who was the 2009 Gatorade player of the year in Connecticut and rated the No. 10 outside linebacker in the nation by Rivals.com. "I had a good relationship with coach Spaz."
This is the first true recruiting class for Spaziani, who took over from Jagodzinski on Jan. 13 last year and had three weeks before signing day to hold everything together.
"Last year was just trying to keep everything afloat, keep everyone in the boat and not have guys leave," he said. "We're trying to build this thing from last year, with bricks and mortar ... so you can get an idea where you're going. Right now, we have a lot of potholes."
Boston College signed 21 players in all, including six offensive linemen, four defensive backs and two quarterbacks. Chase Rettig, from San Clemente High School in California, was rated 21st among pro-style quarterbacks by Rivals.com and will have a chance to compete for the starting job with incumbent Dave Shinskie.
"Dave did a great job for us. You can't overestimate what Dave did. But the job is open," Spaziani said. "Nothing's tattooed on anybody, at any position. Obviously, rank has its privilege."
Spaziani praised the academic credentials of his recruiting class -- 12 had a B average or better, and one had a 4.0 -- and noted that 20 of the 21 played multiple sports in high school; 14 of them played multiple positions in football.
"In this day and age of guys specializing, it's another way of trying to quantify what type of individual you're going to get," Spaziani said. "They're still in the developmental stage. The tendency from sixth grade and up is to dig into one sport. That can only go so far."