April 15, 2008

Toal back at full strength

Brian Toal spoke the words that many Boston College fans have been waiting to hear for a long time.

"My injury is 100% recovered, and it's in the back of my mind," said Toal.

Currently, there are no restrictions on Toal in the weight room or on the practice field.

After getting shoulder surgery, Toal was forced to sit out the entire 2007 season. BC's star linebacker was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team went on their magical run last season.

Toal said, "It was a really exciting season even though I wasn't playing. It was great to see BC football at No. 2 in the country, and right up there in the top of the ACC. At times it was tough watching not being able to be on the field, but it was something I was able to deal with. I worked hard throughout the season. It was a good experience for me, and you learn a lot from it".

Right now, Toal's biggest concern is working out a few kinks in his game due to not having seen game action in over a year.

"I'm still a little rusty, still got a couple things I need to work on," said Toal. "But I'll have those squared away by game time on August 30th. I'm excited about that and have been looking forward to that for two years now."

If the senior linebacker still has rust to knock off, then the rest of the ACC is in for a rude awakening next year. In Thursday's scrimmage, Toal was by far one of the top performers on the team as he looked as crisp as ever taking down ball carriers. On top of that, Toal appears to be in top physical condition as well, which raised my eyebrows after seeing him listed at 252 pounds on the spring depth chart.

When I asked Toal about his weight listed on the depth chart he jokes, "That's about 20 pounds off, and I'm not 272 so you can do the math."

As always, the key to Toal's season will be how healthy he can stay. In past seasons, it's been argued that by playing Toal at running back in goal-line situations it raised the risk of injury to him. After all, being one of the team's leading tacklers brings enough wear and tear to someone's body. It looks like those who were against the "1st and Toal" era will finally be getting their wish.

"I think it's a thing of the past," said Toal. "As last we left off it wasn't in the game plan and that's fine with me. I'm focused on defense right now."

Toal is just one of the many weapons that Frank Spaziani has at his disposal at linebacker this season. There are legitimately six different linebackers who could see playing time this season, and that's without factoring in any injuries that could occur. With that in mind will we see some more 3-4 defense from BC this season?

Toal said, "That's up to the coaches, but I remember watching last year, and we had four linebackers on the field a lot. I'm sure that will happen again, but whatever the coaches' feel is best to help us win is what they're going to do. I have a lot of confidence in them; they know what they're doing."

Ultimately, this is probably not going to be Toal's last stop playing football. The linebacker possesses many skills that will be desired in the next level, the NFL. With that in mind, I asked Toal if there's anything specific that he needs to work on to help him get to the NFL.

"You're never going to be perfect. There are guys that have been in the NFL 15 years and there's still things they need to get better at." Toal continued, "I have a lot of things to work on-- strength, speed, agility. I feel I've made great strides over the past couple years with that when I was rehabbing my shoulder."

In Toal's down time, don't expect him to catch him at a local movie theatre, or with a Netflix subscription. "I'm definitely not a movie guy. I don't watch TV much either. I like to sleep a lot and relax," said Toal.

When I pried a little further to get at least one thing out of Toal that he likes to do to entertain himself he admitted, "I got into Guitar Hero a little bit. That was actually pretty fun".

Leave it to the star linebacker to have a little bit of a rock star quality hidden inside him.

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