Boston College wide receiver Dino Tomlin will enjoy a homecoming of sorts when Eagles engage the Panthers of Pittsburgh on Thursday night (7) at Acrisure Stadium.
Tomlin is the son of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and he grew up in a football culture wholly defined by the Steel City. Tomlin said a sizable contingent of family and friends will be in the stands wearing maroon and gold while rooting against the home team.
“It will definitely be fun to go home and play in front of my family and friends,” said Tomlin following a hard practice on Monday. “It’ also playing on TV (nationally) and it’s a big game.”
BC and Pitt seldom crossed paths under the old ACC divisional structure with the Panthers in the Coastal and the Eagles in the Atlantic. When the ACC realigned into a unified conference this season, Pitt, Miami, and Syracuse were assigned BC’s permanent partners, an arrangement influenced by their former ties to the Big East.
“He’s a Pittsburgh kid and I’m sure coach Tomlin and his family is pretty excited and deep down he’s pretty excited,” said BC coach Jeff Hafley. “He’s got positive energy. He pushes himself and studies the game and works his butt off and can catch the football.”
Tomlin was a standout at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, Pa., before attending Maryland for three seasons where he struggled to get on the field. Hafley snagged Tomlin from the transfer portal prior to the 2022 season.
Tomlin would appear in 12 games with two starts and caught 10 passes for 181 yards. Tomlin has been a fixture in quarterback Thomas Castellanos’ progression this season with 19 catches for 228 yards with a long of 52.
Hafley had known coach Tomlin during his three NFL stints with the Browns, Buccaneers, and 49ers and that made for a seamless transition for Dino. The 5-11, redshirt senior is enrolled in the Carroll School of Management.
“We are so glad we have because he is like Mr. Reliable,” said Hafley. “You can always count on him, he is always out there, he is always going to give you everything he can and he makes plays.”
Tomlin also demonstrates the traits for being a coach’s son.
“He sits in the front, he takes notes and he is serious and focused,” said Hafley. “He is disciplined, detailed, and loves football and handles adversity well. He is well-trained and that is a credit to his mom and dad.”
The Pittsburgh Kid
The Pitt vs. BC matchup will be missing a connection that would have guaranteed a touch of drama and a sensational storyline.
Panthers quarterback Phil Jurkovec is a Pittsburgh native who embarked on the long and winding road back to his home city. Jurkovec was a blue-chip recruit at Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa., who initially attended Notre Dame, where he became a numbers casualty.
Jurkovec took the BC exit off the NCAA transfer portal in 2020 and enjoyed immediate success in his first season. Jurkovec missed most of the 2021 season after breaking his passing hand in the second game at UMass. He started the first eight games last season before going down with a knee injury while making a run in a loss at Connecticut.
Both Jurkovec and BC offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. skipped town to join head coach Pat Narduzzi at Pittsburgh. The Panthers opened the 2023 season 1-4 and Jurkovec was benched for Christian Veilleux after a 38-21 loss at Virginia Tech on Sept. 30.
“Phil and I had a really good relationship and I really liked Phil,” said Hafley. “We thought that was the week where he would obviously be playing quarterback and he’s not.
“But he is going to go on and do great things and I’m excited to see him. “
Hafley got the first major break is his coaching career in 2006 when Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt made him a defensive assistant. After two seasons as a DA, Hafley graduated to defensive backs coach from 2008 to 2010 before moving on to Rutgers.
“It is kind of where I got my start with coach Wannstedt,” said Hafley. “I spent a lot of time there and I have a lot of memories and made a lot of friends there in the administration and on the staff in different roles.
“That’s where I met my wife (Gina) so there are a lot memories there. But it is not about me or me going back, we have to find a way to win this game on a short week.”