Before the Pinstripe Bowl, there was one player that frustrated Syracuse fans more than any other – Marcus Sales. Yes, Ryan Nassib drew moans and groans, but Orange fans gave the sophomore quarterback a much longer rope. For Sales, there was a need for one of those 30-foot leashes for kids in the mall just so we could find him.
He was a 4-star recruit coming out of CBA and turned down offers from (at the time) much more prominent schools in Miami (FL), North Carolina, and Pitt to stay home and attend SU. The potential was enormous.
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At 6-feet tall, Sales has good size for the type of game breaking receiver fans anticipated. He’s a downfield threat whose route running skills are impressive. Sales played in 10 of 12 games his freshman year and caught at least one ball in nine of those contests. His sophomore season was even better, finishing second on the team in receiving to Mike Williams. Yet mysteriously as a junior he was missing from the depth chart.
By season’s start, he was found – but as the 7th wide receiver. Four or five-star players should never be lower on the depth chart then the “stars” they garnered as a recruit. Especially as the leading returning receiver. It didn’t make sense.
By midway through last season, Sales broke into the starting lineup. His first catch? A touchdown. His next game? A solid effort of four catches for 36 yards albeit in the loss to Pitt. After another three quiet games including a DNP, Sales exploded. Two games of five catches for 73 yards and a six-for-57 outing. But there was still skepticism since the Orange lost two of those three games, the only win being the wretched affair against Rutgers.
Five catches, 152 yards and 3 touchdowns later, we were all witnesses. Sales’ postseason performance gives Orange fans hope for the hometown hero entering his final season. All indications show he’s got a stranglehold on one of the starting WR spots opposite either Van Chew or Alec Lemon. He’s got three years worth of reps with Nassib in practice and now a solid half season of game action.
The problem with Sales has never been when he’s on the field, it’s just getting him there. Saturday could give us a good inclination of how productive he’s going to be this year (assuming he’s sided with Nassib in the split-squad Spring Game). With extreme depth at wideout (11 on the roster), Sales has no room to slack. Lemon, Chew, Dorian Graham, Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, and Steve Rene are all ready to get snaps as well.
After The Dougie cleaned house two years ago, depth is something Orange fans have been unaccustomed to. At receiver it’s even quality depth, led by one of the most talented recent SU recruits who seems on the verge of finally fulfilling expectations. You can stop drooling now.
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Posted: Craig Hoffman