2022 did not go as planned for the Boston College Eagles.
Finishing with a 3-9 record, the Eagles offense had little to cheer about, as they averaged a mere 17.8 points per game, while the defense did not have much success, surrendering over 30 points per game.
From an individual standpoint, former Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec did not have the type of season many pundits had expected from him. Their rush offense did not help much, as senior running back Patrick Garwo only managed 402 yards and three touchdowns.
Beneath the rubble emerged two players that rose to the occasion in a big way. One was senior receiver Zay Flowers, who earned First-Team All-ACC honors. The other was sophomore defensive end Donovan Ezeiruaku, a player with the potential to become one of college football's premier pass rushers in 2023.
To understand Ezeiruaku, one has to go back to his freshman year. Coming out of Williamstown, New Jersey, as a three-star recruit, Ezeiruaku's freshman year was one where he came primarily off the bench. Despite making few starts, he proved to be very productive. On November 27, 2021, he recorded a season-high six tackles and a sack in a losing effort against Wake Forest. He finished that season with 19 tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for loss.
In 2022, Ezeiruaku not only emerged as one of the conference's top pass rushers, but his ability to make plays in opposing backfields earned him national recognition. According to Pro Football Focus, Ezeiruaku finished 29th in overall defense (83.7) among edge defenders who played at least 250 snaps. Most importantly, Ezeiruaku established himself as the undisputed defensive leader of the Eagles, leading the team in sacks (8.5), tackles for loss (14.5), pressures (36) and forced fumbles (3).
Success for the Eagles this upcoming season will likely run through Ezeiruaku's production, which speaks volumes considering how the sport has become predicated on offense. He is a player who has yet to reach his full potential, which is a scary thought as he is seemingly fully refined. As bad as things were in 2022, this season has reason for optimism as long as Ezeiruaku is on their side.