Inside the lobby of the Yawkey Athletic Center, just paces away from Alumni Stadium, is a shrine to some of the most decorated athletes in Boston College history.

Tributes to the careers of heralded quarterbacks Doug Flutie and Matt Ryan are captured all over the room. Those gridiron greats are now joined by Luke Kuechly, the linebacker from Cincinnati who garnered little national recognition coming out of high school.

There are life-sized pictures of Kuechly's career as well as a few of the trophies he earned his final season, including the Butkus Award, for the nation's most outstanding linebacker, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, for national defensive player of the year.

On a bench just a few steps from the trophy cases is a student, wearing glasses and about three layers of clothing, trying to adjust to the brisk weather outside. He has a water bottle and a lunch in a plastic bag — like any other college student just trying to survive the day.

He extends his hand and says, "Hey, it's nice to meet you. My name is Luke."

Yes, that Luke.

Kuechly is back on campus, working toward finishing his degree after studying abroad in his own kind of way. The 6-foot-3 tackling machine introduced himself to NFL fans during his rookie year with an league-leading 164 tackles, establishing himself as one of the favorites to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors when the award is announced tomorrow night.