Help Wanted: Incoming DB Dontez Ford Will Have a Chance to Compete for SU

The secondary is filled with uncertainty, meaning there are jobs open for competition.

The Syracuse secondary last year was putrid, there’s no way around it. It was a group that fought injuries and lack of talent the entire season. The images of deep balls sailing over Orange helmets will forever haunt SU fans when thinking of the 5-game collapse. In the first two months of the season, the DBs bent but did not break. They gave up yardage, but buckled down in the red zone and came up big when it mattered most. In the final five losses though, the plays given up got bigger and the game saving ones disappeared.

This year’s secondary is a complete mystery. Phillip Thomas was the best player off last year’s crew and he’s gone. He led the team in tackles despite missing the last two games. Shamarko Thomas will be the best returning Orange, but he’s an undersized safety who used to play corner.

The Fizz has been high on Ritchy Desir, and we expect to see the second-year man make some big plays. He stood out in the Rochester scrimmage, causing turnovers and was constantly around the ball. Jeremi Wilkes is back, although he was the personification of the Orange issues. J-Dub was beat on more deep balls than anyone else, but also snared many key interceptions. Corners Keon Lyn and Ri’Shard Anderson return, and each had their moments last year. Youngster Brandon Reddish should find the field this year. Shu Mungwa and Durrell Eskridge are also in play.

SU’s secondary is a work in progress, so there’s room for incoming freshman to make an impact. Wayne Morgan was Syracuse’s biggest recruiting grab, and there’s a great chance he sees the field this year. Julian Whigham could also come in and make a splash, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the two freshman ending up as the nickel back. Add injury issues for Lyn and Anderson to the uncertainty surrounding the last line of defense.

Another incoming frosh who will fight for time is Dontez Ford. The Sto-Rox product from outside Pittsburgh already has impressive size at 6’2” (as opposed to Wilkes’ generous listing of 5’9”) and has plenty of raw skills. He’s also incredibly intelligent. The Fizz met up with Ford in Pittsburgh while covering the NCAA Tournament, and his maturity was obvious.

“Good size, smart, mature but not quite ready to play yet as a freshman.” That description also fit Mungwa last year. The New Jersey product sat on the sidelines in ’11 and watched intently. Buzz is he’s playing very well in Spring Ball and will push to get on the field. With no one but Thomas as a starting lock, there’s a great shot Mungwa gets snaps this year.

This is probably Ford in ’13. He has a distinct skill set along with above average size. Ford also played receiver in high school, and uses that experience to consistently bring down jump balls. With the move to the ACC and bigger, faster, more athletic receivers around the corner, a guy like Ford could be a huge asset. He’s still raw, but with his brains and physical tools, he’s certainly capable of developing into a solid guy at the back end of Doug Marrone’s secondary.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

6 Comments on this Post

  1. “Shamarko Thomas will be the best returning Orange, but he’s an undersized safety who used to play corner”. Thats the worst description on him I have ever heard, he is the hardest hitting player on the field and never played corner, he was splitting time at safety with Max Sutter as a Frosh.

  2. Ford, Reddish , Desir and Morgan have great potential and we will be surprised by their contributions this year. Hey SU fans look at how youth has helped Cincinnati and Louisville over the years and now it is SU’s turn to cash in on our youth. GO SU

  3. We’ll see!!! Its HCDM’s head that’s on the block if his system fails again!!!

  4. Hey Dan – according to SU Athletics Shamarko played at Safety, Corner and Linebacker his freshman year. Last year he was the first guy to rotate down to corner in the Okie package.

    I’m not saying he’s not good, I’m just saying he’s bounced around. He’s a nasty hitter, but there’s no arguing he’s not a tall guy. There’s also no arguing that he didn’t used to play corner, althoug that’s actually a good thing because it shows his versatility. Thanks for reading!

  5. i understand he plays different positions in certain packages, I guess it just sounds like he’s being ripped on a bit and the quote kinda makes it sound like he has little experience at safety. I got no beef, I enjoy this site, Just sticking up for Shamarko.

  6. I appreciate that. I totally get your point, although I think we agree in somewhat different wording. He’s not experienced at safety for a 3rd year senior starter because they more him around so much. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing, it just means he’s been moved around. You’d feel better with a guy who’s been locked in for a while in that one spot to be your best guy, but that doesn’t mean Shamarko isn’t a good player.

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