Brace was a standout student-athlete during one of the most successful four-year periods in Boston College football history
The Boston College Athletics family is mourning the loss of former defensive lineman Ron Brace, who died Saturday at his home in Springfield at the age of 29.
Brace was a standout student-athlete during one of the most successful four-year periods in Boston College football history (2005-06-07-08), helping the Eagles to a 39-14 record and three bowl game championships. Brace and future NFL star BJ Raji stood as formidable bookends on some of BC’s best-ever defensive fronts. He registered key plays in BC’s 8-0 stretch that propelled the team to a No. 2 national ranking in 2007, including a sack on Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen in a win over the Irish and a tackle in a defensive series that set up BC’s memorable comeback drive and victory at Virginia Tech. He started 37 consecutive games for the Eagles and was an All-ACC second-team selection as a senior before being drafted by the New England Patriots.
As is customary for players donning the maroon and gold, Brace made an impact off the field as well. Dard Miller, director of BC’s office of Learning Resources, called Brace a dedicated, dependable role model.
”We could always count on him for community service activities, not the slick photo-op type but the real deal,” she said. “He frequently visited Dorchester and Brighton schools to talk to the kids about staying in school, and carried his pen pals around Alumni Stadium on picnic day. He was a loyal friend to his teammates and respected his coaches and teachers. He worked extraordinarily hard for his degree and earned it. We will all miss him.”
Brace’s former coaches and teammates reacted with sadness mixed with fond memories.
“The thing I remember most is his infectious smile,” says former head coach Tom O’Brien, who recruited Brace to Boston College. “Being such a big guy, you would expect something different, but he was a big ‘ole teddy bear. He made people around him smile. We had to turn that off and expose his alter ego when he played football. I saw him last fall (during a 2005 team reunion on the BC campus) and the first thing I saw was a big smile. He will be sorely missed and we pray for his family.”
Defensive line and special teams coach Al Washington, who was a teammate of Brace, took to Twitter Sunday to express his emotions.
“Words cannot express how deeply saddened I am at the loss of my teammate, my friend and my brother Ron Brace,” Washington wrote. “Just two weeks ago we connected when you expressed an interest in becoming a coach. It pains me to think about all the lives you would have impacted and changed for the better.”
Former head coach Frank Spaziani, who served as Brace’s defensive coordinator, said Brace fit at Boston College like hand in glove.
“He was a great young man,” Spaziani said. “BC was the perfect environment for him; he embraced what BC had to offer and used it to his advantage, and that was the key to his success. He learned tremendous work habits, and it paid off for him. He’s a guy who developed and work hard, and that’s a testament to his own fortitude. His contributions will not be forgotten and he will be sorely missed.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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