Less than three weeks until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Boston College has had at least one elite linebacker on the roster for what feels like forever at this point, and this season, Kevin Pierre-Louis is no exception. A solid all-around player, Pierre-Louis has benefited from sharing a field with the likes of both Nick Clancy and Luke Kuechly over the past two years. But now it’s largely his show to run at linebacker. The question is can he rise to the occasion and become that game-changing defender he’s shown glimpses of in this past? Or will he cede the spotlight to a talented teammate (perhaps fellow senior LB Steele Divitto) once again? For what it’s worth, I think KPL’s finally ready to star for this defense.
To be clear, neither of the last two seasons have been disappointments for Pierre-Louis. He’s just been surrounded by more gaudy statistics from his fellow linebackers. Back in 2011, he notched 74 stops (six TFLs), along with a fumble return for a score, despite missing three games. Last year, he had 85 tackles (four TFLs), though he missed another three games then too. In his three-year career, he’s had 10 games with 10 or more tackles, showing the ability to take over games for stretches, though never at a Kuechly-like level. Over the last two seasons, part of that might be due to health (six missed games over that stretch), but again, a lot of it appears to be a result of his teammates’ greater abilities to make those plays.
If Pierre-Louis were to finally tally that “breakout” season though, this is the year. The spotlight’s on him and there’s little expectation for this Boston College team — meaning there’s nowhere to go but up. He’s got the speed to outweigh his perceived lack of size (6’1″ and 225 pounds) at the outside linebacker spot, which plays right into coach Steve Addazio’s pledge for more aggression on defense. It’s his year. Of course, we’ve said this before. Prior to the 2012 season, actually. And those reasons still ring true today. This is the right system and coach for Pierre-Louis to be an impact player each and every Saturday. Now it’s up to him to deliver the goods.