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Lukas Denis, Playmaker

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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For everywhere that he has lined up, Lukas Denis' true position is playmaker.

He is the only player in the country over the last decade to compile at least 80 tackles, seven interceptions, ten pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in a single year.

Quite literally, Boston College safety Lukas Denis had one of the most-productive seasons in recent college football history last fall. He is the only player in the country over the last decade to compile at least 80 tackles, seven interceptions, ten pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in a single year. Denis earned All-American honors for his performance as a junior; remarkably, it was his first season at safety. A converted cornerback, Denis may now be the nation's best at his new position.

Denis, fluid and instinctive, has a playmaking compass that always has him near the football. In his first career start, playing at Florida State, Denis recorded two pass break-ups. He, with Boston College playing for bowl eligibility at Wake Forest two weeks later, intercepted a game-ending pass near midfield to preserve a 17-14 win for the Eagles. Since moving to the first-team in early November of 2016, Denis has the most interceptions in all of college football. 

The switch to free safety in coordinator Jim Reid's defense was one that, right away, put Denis in position to shine. Results were immediate. In his middle-of-the-field debut, Denis grabbed a key fourth quarter pick in a tie game at Northern Illinois. He compiled 13 tackles, a pick and a forced fumble in an early showdown with defending national champion Clemson. By the end of September, Denis was the national leader with five interceptions.

Remarkably, Denis forced a total of seven turnovers through his first five games.   

With Denis emerging as a team leader, Boston College went 5-1 over the second half of the regular season, a stretch which included a dramatic win over reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville and a 35-3 triumph over Florida State. Though the Eagles lost to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl, they had their best defensive performance of the year in limiting the Hawkeyes to just 200 total yards.

The talent and versatility that Denis brings comes with options. He has lined up at cornerback some due to injuries this spring, a role he is still capable of playing. Denis is the type of dynamic defender who can seamlessly shift responsibilities in the secondary when need be. His value is multi-faceted. Correspondingly, Denis finished number one in the country with 185 interception return yards in 2017; such production would have made him the team's fourth-leading receiver. 

This fall, Boston College appears poised to contend. In addition to last fall's late surge, the Eagles return a strong core, including stars A.J. Dillon at running back, Tommy Sweeney at tight end, Zach Allen along the defensive line and Denis in the defensive backfield. Boston College will have a chance to build some early momentum ahead of a rally to the finish that includes consecutive games against Miami, at Virginia Tech, Clemson and at Florida State down the home stretch.

A local product, Denis is helping to set the tone for a program on the rise. Throw in a minimum of 115 return yards to his single-season threshold of at least 80 tackles, seven interceptions and two forced fumbles and the last power five player to do what Denis just did, and the only other one since the turn of the century, was BC great Jamie Silva in 2007; that season, Silva finished his college career by helping the Eagles to second in the national polls and the ACC Championship Game. Denis is working towards similar goals. 

For everywhere that he has lined up, Denis' true position is playmaker. Fresh off an effort for the ages, he is ready to lead Boston College forward.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports