Is Syracuse Making a Mistake Converting Brandon Reddish to Defense?

NY Daily News

Brandon Reddish and fellow Syracuse-bound teammate Terrell Hunt looked at each other on the line. Hunt flashed a quick signal. Seconds later Reddish caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Hunt in one of the most electrifying plays of the Upstate/Downstate All Star Game played in the Carrier Dome last weekend.

“In practice [Terrell] kept saying he was gonna throw it to me and I was like you sure and he kept saying I got you and that play finally came and I caught it.”

It was an extremely impressive play by Reddish and Hunt who, despite working together only a few days in practice, quickly developed a nice chemistry. But it raised a question of whether perhaps it is a mistake to move Reddish to the defensive side of the ball as is the current ‘Cuse plan. Syracuse struggled with wide receiver depth last year losing both Alec Lemon and Van Chew to injuries.

Marcus Sales finally began to contribute late in the season and had a solid Spring Game, but is still a question mark. Jarrod West was recently arrested for underage drinking. Sales and Chew are seniors, while Lemon is a junior, so having Reddish developing as a replacement for them seems prudent.

When asked about Reddish as an offensive player, Downstate coach Lou Dirienzo deferred.

“We only worked him out on the offensive side of the ball and he was very impressive. I believe he can play receiver at the next level, but the Syracuse coaches are a lot smarter than me. I’m sure they know what they’re doing.”

That deep touchdown pass was the only target and catch of the game for Reddish, but it showcased his good football awareness and excellent speed and hands. Those skills can translate well to the defensive side of the ball. If Reddish can learn to read quarterbacks as a defender, he could be a great asset in forcing turnovers and taking away the deep ball.

Back in January, The Fizz raved about the commitment of Reddish and how dynamic his addition could be to a conservative offense and ineffective passing game. But on Signing Day, SU coaches tabbed him as a defensive back. Reddish seemed undaunted at the concept of learning a new position: “It was something [Coach] preferred and I decided it didn’t really matter to me what position I played.  I just wanna help the team out in any way possible. He decided we gonna put me on the defensive side, so I said coach I’ll work at it.”

A thin secondary is another reason why The Dougie has decided to move Reddish to defensive back. Right now the receiving corps is still deeper than the defensive backfield.

For now converted wideout Reddish is on the correct side of the ball. But Marrone should consider giving him occasional reps on the offensive side of the ball and, perhaps once the trio of Lemon, Sales and Chew are gone, give him a shot at receiver. Of course, SU could also try him at kicker – Reddish kicked a touchback after the Downstate kicker was injured on an extra point.

Posted: Alex Plavin


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  1. matt says:

    because reddish isn’t as fast as a kobena/graham and is also tiny

  2. Kevin says:

    I think SU ought to at least look at him as a WR. I mean, his stats are something like 30 TDs over the last two years (depending on what you read), but at a minimum, he was NYC’s offensive player of the year. Ok, maybe he’s not big or super quick, but he put up the numbers. Years ago, some other WR wasn’t tall enough, or quick enough, or didn’t play in the right program, but you don’t have to say anything other than “Jerry Rice” when describing him. I don’t see that SU has the proven players at WR to relegate this guy to the DB position. If Sales produced like that consistent, or if Chew didn’t get hurt, or if Lemon didn’t get hurt, and if … if … if. You can’t dismiss him as an offensive player without seeing him play.

    Kev

  3. Dr Bill says:

    I love the skill set that Reddish brings to the table. I think the staff is wise to start him out at CB. His tape shows big play ability at the corner. Think about one big factor: look at the new Big East:
    Pitt has a new coach from Tulsa? with a high powered spread offense, West Virginia has a new coach who is known for a high octane passing attack, and don’t forget TCU is joining the conference. SU is going to need speed and more speed on the field on the defensive side of the ball now more than ever and Brandon Reddish could be that shut down corner we will need. Go Cuse…

  4. ben says:

    He clearly graded out higher in the recruiting evaluations as a DB rather than a WR. Simple as that. The staff knows what they are doing.

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