There is one date that's etched in Jake Burt's mind — August 31.
That afternoon three weeks from today, Virginia Tech will come to the Heights to face Burt and the Boston College Eagles, kicking off the college football season. It will mark the beginning of the final campaign for the fifth-year tight end from Lynnfield.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound St. John's Prep graduate, who is completely healthy, decided to play out his final year after graduating from Boston College.
Burt and teammate Hunter Long are on the watch list for the prestigious John Mackey Award, presented each year to the outstanding collegiate tight end who is a role model both on and off the field. The winner will be announced by a selection committee and presented at the Home Depot College Football Award Red Carpet Show on ESPNU on December 12.
"It was kind of a surprise to be on the list, but Hunter and I are part of a good tight end room here," said Burt. "It is nice to be considered."
Last year ended on a strange note for the Eagles. They had taken an early lead over Boise State in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl Game in Dallas when the contest was halted by lightning. The radar showed no sign of the weather improving, so the game was canceled. BC ended with a 7-5 record after having gotten out to a 7-2 mark and being nationally ranked.
"We prepared for a bowl game and never expected not to be able to play the game, but you can't control those kind of things," said Burt. "We have to get back and do it again this year.
"We started preseason a few days ago and have been in pads now for a couple of sessions. Our first game is coming up quick, and that's all I'm looking at right now; winning that first one."
Practices began for Boston College in the Fish Field House, with the first two days being helmets only before shoulder pads were added for a couple of days in shells, followed by full pads and contact. Coach Steve Addazio's squad worked mainly on technique at the start.
"Right now every day is about getting a little better so by the time the season rolls around, we'll be ready to go," said Burt, who spent a lot of time in the weight room getting ready for the 2019 season. "I've been doing it for so long that I know how to get myself in shape. You have to be both mentally and physically ready to go."
A year ago, Burt appeared in 10 games for Boston College and had six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. His longest catch was for 25 yards against UMass; he had another 24-yard grab against Purdue.
In 2017, he played in nine games at tight end and was on special teams after missing all his sophomore season due to injury and was redshirted. As a freshman he saw action in eight games, with one start at tight end against Wake Forest.
He had an outstanding career at St. John's Prep with 28 catches for 255 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He was a Catholic Conference and Salem News all-star, and named to the Massachusetts Football Coaches Association Super 26 Team.
"My goals are more for our team than for me personally," said Burt. "I want to win every game we play, and if we win all the individual goals will come. I believe we've got a real good group, and the offense will be a good mix between the running and passing games.
"I intend to be ready for whatever opportunities present themselves, and I'm prepared to do whatever I can to help us win. We want to be nationally ranked again, and we have to concentrate on winning to do that."
Boston College starts the season with three straight home games at Alumni Stadium, with Richmond and Kansas following Virginia Tech into Chestnut Hill.
One thing is certain: Burt's passion for football is just as strong as ever, and he doesn't want his playing time to end.
"We'll see what the future holds, but if I never have to stop playing football it would be fine with me," he said. "I just love the game."