A star member of the Linebacker Legion has chosen his college destination.
Following a standout junior year and entering his senior season, Tommy Eichenberg has committed to Boston College.
The highly valued linebacker recruit announced his selection of the Jesuit school in Boston on Wednesday to conclude a busy recruiting process.
"From their education, the athletics, the coaches, the tradition with Saint Ignatius guys going there, overall, Boston College was the right fit for me," Eichenberg said. "They really made me feel like I was wanted. That was a big deciding factor. I love their coaching staff, they're really great guys."
Tommy Eichenberg came onto campus a few years ago as a known commodity. The Wildcats' coaching staff quickly noticed Eichenberg's talent. Having an older brother who commits to the University of Notre Dame adds to expectations, too.
Tommy's older brother, Liam, starred at tackle during his time in the blue and gold. The big, fearsome offensive lineman chose the Fighting Irish in the spring of 2016 and just recently advanced to the top spot in Notre Dame's depth chart at left tackle.
"Tommy's brother, Liam, wrote his own story a few years ago and he's the starting left tackle at Notre Dame. It's clear that Tommy has written his own story and going on to do his thing," said Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69. "With all of the work Tommy has put in, we're all pleased he's been rewarded for that."
Tommy Eichenberg began writing his story as a young player. Working his way up the depth chart, Eichenberg focused his efforts on the weight room and on the field. As a sophomore, Eichenberg watched the herculean efforts of talented linebackers James Layden, Adam Shibley, and John Velotta. (Layden currently plays for Ohio University and Shibley is on the roster for the Michigan Wolverines.) Heading into his junior season, Eichenberg got bigger and focused on becoming an impact player.
Without a doubt, Eichenberg developed into a stud playmaker for the Linebacker Legion in 2017. Eichenberg topped the team with 81 tackles and 7.5 sacks. The junior also notched 19 tackles for loss, second only to Logan Joyce, and tabbed nine quarterback hits, four pass breakups, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.
Simply put, Eichenberg haunted opposing quarterbacks, ballcarriers, and wide receivers all season.
"I don't think there's a part of his game that's really lacking. He has a great toughness," said Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach Ryan Franzinger '02. "He plays equally well in the box as outside in pass coverage. His height helps him in pass coverage, which you saw in a few games. He's equally talented vs. the run and pass."
Eichenberg and the defense limited opposing offenses all season, and helped to guide the team deep into the playoffs. The Wildcats fell short in the Regional Final, but the loss only fueled Eichenberg. The 6'3", 225-pound linebacker worked in the offseason to improve and develop further. As a result, Eichenberg was named a captain in January at the team banquet.
His hard work translated to the ring, too, as Eichenberg emerged as a budding star for the track and field squad. Guided by Franzinger and the venerable Coach Tom Flandera '63, Eichenberg thrived all season and punched his ticket to the State Meet in the shot put. Eichenberg earned All-Ohio status following an eighth-place finish amongst the best in Ohio.
In the meantime, coaches noticed Eichenberg and offers piled up. Purdue, Toledo, Kent State, Duke, Ball State, Iowa, Cincinnati, and Michigan State were among the myriad of schools to offer him a scholarship. Nationally renowned programs such as Penn State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State also showed interest.
Following a whirlwind tour of visits, Eichenberg decided on the premier Jesuit school in Boston.
"I felt welcomed," said Eichenberg. "They're like Ignatius guys, very welcoming. One of the recruiters is a really great guy. I visited there and it felt like home. Every coach knew who I was and they were really excited for me to come up. It was very similar to Ignatius."
The Wildcats' coaching staff couldn't be more thrilled with Eichenberg's decision.
"I'm very excited for Tommy," Kyle said. "Anyone who saw us play last year knows he's a Division I football player, no doubt about it. He met a lot of people, and he has this wonderful opportunity with Boston College to go to an excellent academic school and in historically, one of the most amazing cities in the world. You play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which is pretty interesting. He went there and felt comfortable. We have a bit of a heritage there, too. We have players who go there and do very well."
Indeed, a host of Wildcats have attended Boston College and thrived. Jim Ramella '05 starred at right end for the Eagles, receiving the Scanlan Award, the highest honor bestowed on a Boston College football player. Kevin Kavalec '13 also received the prestigious award following his senior year in 2017. Dennis Grosel '16 will be a redshirt freshman quarterback for Boston College this season.
Eichenberg will succeed at BC, too, according to Coach Kyle.
"There's an intensity in the way he approaches the game," said the veteran coach in his 35th season at the helm. "He made great coverage plays last year, but when you blitz him, there's certainly a result. I think Boston College looks at him and says, 'He's still growing.' They love the way he plays linebacker, but they have a position that is a guy who's a drop end, but also an outside 'backer. At times, he'll put his hand down and rush, other times he's dropping off. Tom Eichenberg is perfect for that position, and not everyone can play that position."
On the field, Boston College receives a stellar playmaker, but Eichenberg's off the field talents are just as noteworthy.
A smart young man, Eichenberg has developed as a scholar and a leader, which has not gone unnoticed.
"We've always known his talents as a football player and as a student, but his development as a leader has been very pleasing to me and good to see," Franzinger said. "He has a solid group of guys in his class who have taken leadership very seriously. Those are the types of student-athletes we want here. We don't just want guys who make a bunch of tackles or throw the shot put far. We want solid people, and those are typically the ones who do very well. We try not to compartmentalize, we try to educate the whole person, so it's nice to see."
But the work isn't over for Eichenberg – far from it.
"The main focus right now is playing with my brothers and trying to win another state championship," Eichenberg said. "We're going for number 12."
On behalf of Saint Ignatius athletics, congratulations, Tommy!