Shinskie knows about Flutie's impact

NEWTON, Mass. -- Dave Shinskie knows a thing or two about the most famous quarterback in Boston College history.

But he admits that he might not know three.

Which, when you consider Shinskie is the only player on the 2011 Eagles roster to have been alive when Doug Flutie won the Heisman in 1984, shouldn't be a total surprise.

"How much do I know about him?" Shinskie said as he grabbed a bite before a recent practice. "I know he was 5-foot-whatever and he led his team to, I don't know if it was a national championship, but he won the Heisman.

"You have to be some kind of a leader and know what you're talking about to do that as a guy of that stature."

Shinskie was born May 4, 1984, so he was only 7 months old when it was announced that Flutie had won college football's greatest individual honor. So he can be forgiven for overestimating the icon's influence. The Eagles did make it to the Cotton Bowl in 1984, but even Flutie couldn't get them to a national championship game.

Shinskie came to BC after a six-year stint in baseball's minor leagues. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft by the Minnesota Twins. He was a right-handed pitcher who finished with a 24-30 record and a 4.61 ERA in three levels with two teams.

When he decided that baseball wasn't going to work out, Shinskie started looking for an opportunity to play college football. He fell for Boston College because of the school's Jesuit teachings and the football team's tradition.

"I came to BC because I believe BC has a character, it makes a person better," said Shinskie, who started the first four games of the 2010 season before giving way to Chase Rettig.

Shinskie isn't complaining about being a backup. He says he's getting a great education, working with a great group of coaches and playing with great teammates. He's proud to be part of a program that has produced players at his position such as Flutie, Matt Ryan and Brian St. Pierre.

He said the coaches didn't try to use Flutie's exploits 27 years ago to sell him on the Eagles. But that doesn't mean those exploits aren't part of the package.

Enter BC's Yawkey Center, just off of Alumni Stadium, and you're greeted by the school's copy of Flutie's Heisman Trophy. His retired jersey hangs in the stadium. And, in case you miss those things, there's a larger-than-life version of him in bronze outside Alumni.

And then there's the man's actual presence, which is no less inspiring to today's athletes. Even though they've only seen his highlight footage.

"I've met him a couple of times," Shinskie said, "and he still has that fire in his belly to do anything. To play a game of pickup basketball or to do a commercial as best as he can. He's a different guy.

"A guy like Doug Flutie doesn't come around every 10 years …" he said with a laugh.

But when a guy like him does, his impact lasts for much, much longer.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.