New Canaan’s Jack Conley working hard to find place on Boston College offensive line

At 6-foot-7, it’s rare for New Canaan’s Jack Conley to be looking up at anything.

But that’s exactly the spot he was in when he left the Rams’ football program and arrived at Boston College two years ago. Conley was looking up, at least on the depth chart.

Now a redshirt sophomore, Conley has a spot in the rotation on the Eagles’ offensive line, and he’s ready for the challenge.

“It’s been going from the top down to the bottom and then working your way back up,” Conley said. “There’s a great sense of pride with it.”

The Eagles are returning their five O-line starters from last season, but Conley, who is listed at 317 pounds, is primed to see some time at his primary position of left tackle, after playing exclusively on special teams in all 11 games last year.

“Our O-line coach (Matt Applebaum) prioritizes a big rotation, so even if there’s a starting five, we’re playing six or seven guys a game,” Conley said. “He told me there’s a shot (to start), but if not, there’s the rotation and we’ll be good to shuffle in and out and get some playing time.”

Boston College is entering its second year under head coach Jeff Hafley, and after a 6-5 season in 2020, the Eagles return 20 starters, with many of those on offense.

“This team is going to be better than any team I’ve ever been a part of,” Conley said. “It’s explosive, it’s a huge family, everyone loves everyone, we work really well together, our scheme is awesome and our coaches are great.

“This team is going to do a lot of damage.”

Conley was part of New Canaan’s terrific signing class in 2018, when three players went to Div. I programs.

Jack Stewart headed to Michigan, and Garrett Braden went to Rice. Quarterback Drew Pyne, then a high school junior, had verbally committed to Notre Dame at the time and signed the next year,

An All-state player at New Canaan, Conley arrived at Boston College and set about working his way up the ranks.

“A huge thing is not having a big head,” Conley said. “You might have been all that in high school, but you’re not that here. Everyone here is better than you, so you’ve got to know that you’re at the bottom and you need to get to work.”

After redshirting his first year and playing special teams last year, Conley is eager to play on the line this season.

“It’s a great feeling,” Conley said. “It’s kind of a sigh of relief that a lot of hard work has led to this. So hopefully, I’ll get a lot more playing time.”

The likely starters on the offensive line include Tyler Vrabel, a redshirt junior, at left tackle, with Conley among a group of immediate reserves.

Conley said Applebaum earlier this week told his group of players “everyone needs to act and think like they’re a starter,” and that every day is a competition.

“Anything can happen so we come out here every day with the mindset of competing for a spot,” Conley said.

It’s also been a plus that Applebaum cultivates the family atmosphere among the linemen.

“He’s a great dude,” Conley said. “He’s one of the best teachers I’ve been around and outside of the classroom, he wants us to be able to go into his office and have conversations about anything. It’s not just the coach-to-player relationship. It’s really cool and I value that a lot.”

The Eagles will kick off the season with a home game against Colgate on Saturday, Sept. 4, and after practicing for several weeks, the players are ready to kick off the season.

“I’m still on the field after practice 17,” Conley said on Wednesday. “ Camp has been going for about three weeks now, we break on Friday, and then we’re just excited for next Saturday.

“We finally get to hit someone else besides ourselves.”; @dstewartsports