Safety Shu Mungwa Walks, Can Syracuse Fix the Questionable Secondary?

With less than two weeks until kickoff of Syracuse’s season opener, the Orange still isn’t firm on who will start at free safety. Shu Mungwa was a top candidate to wear Phillip Thomas’ old shoes and play opposite Shamarko Thomas this year, but it appears Mungwa is one of three players not on the 2012 roster published in the media guide earlier this month.

Also missing from the roster is nose tackle Cory Boatman and walk-on kicker Riley Dixon. Boatman was a 5th year senior who played in 12 games last year, starting one. Dixon did not see the field at all.

Mungwa, however, was a promising safety coming off a year of being injured who The Fizz thought may fill the open gap at free safety position. Now, the SU Football Office simply states he’s “no longer with the football program.” Per usual, Marrone won’t comment on a player not on the roster, nor why the up-and-coming zone defender split ways with the Orange.

Scout’s John Garcia caught up with Mungwa who simply said, ”It wasn’t the right place for me. There’s no ill-will with anybody over there. It was my decision, I wasn’t forced to do it. I just felt like that situation wasn’t the right one for me.”

This is a frustrating loss for Orange fans. Mungwa was a Jersey kid, plucked from Rutgers country and powerhouse Bergen Catholic. He was a intelligent athlete, originally looking at Stanford. Once that fell through, he contacted the SU coaches. He had listed Donovan Darius as one of his favorite Orange players ever. Many hoped he would become the next hard-hitting safety for the SU secondary. That never materialized, and it’s another void for a shaky unit.

As for Boatman’s absence, Eric Crume is listed as the starting NT in his place. Dixon was never going to start as the kicker for this team, so he won’t be missed terribly. However, Mungwa’s disappearance adds some new question marks to a secondary already belabored with uncertainty. Last season, SU allowed 250+ passing yards to USF and Pitt and 300+ passing yards against Wake Forest, USC, West Virginia, Tulane and Toledo.

(In case you’re wondering, Mungwa’s work in the rap game hasn’t slowed a bit while his football career has taken a pit stop. “Shu-Tang Clan” released a single on YouTube July 29th, a few days before his name evaporated from the SU roster.)

Mungwa wasn’t a slam dunk solution to the entire secondary (or even his position), but it does leave an already vulnerable part of the defense with one less capable body. Can incoming freshman DB Dontez Ford now see playing time as a starter? What about the ultra talented NYC star Wayne Morgan? With Mungwa now gone, SU’s most experienced replacements for Phil Thomas become Jeremi Wilkes and Durell Eskridge. Wilkes was burned on more deep balls than any other Orange last year, and his attitude could stand to be improved. That said, there is a whole mix of undefined members of the secondary who could fill in with an impressive enough training camp.

We saw what Brandon Reddish is capable of during the Spring Game, and at the time he may have been the most improved member of the secondary to return. But many of the guys who populate SU’s “melting pot” secondary are not true safeties who have experience covering large, deep zones in the middle of the field. The most proven starter of the group, Shamarko Thomas, is undersized for the position since he used to play corner.

That doesn’t mean the Orange can’t cultivate a hard hitting FS out of what it has on the roster right now. Marrone has a big influx of talent at DB with the additions of Morgan, Ford, and Julian Whigam. If none of these guys can get the hang of playing safety, Eskridge is still a viable option even though he’s coming off a bench year. His senior year in high school was a blockbuster one as he led his team to a championship, playing both wide receiver and safety.

With Shu Mungwa gone, who do you think should start at FS?

Posted: Jake Moskowitz


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  1. Brian says:

    I thought Eskridge looked good at Fanfest on Friday and I know he’s a corner but Wayne Morgan also played really well.

  2. Frank says:

    What ever happened to Wayne Morgan? Not much ink on the incoming frosh.

  3. ritchie says:

    Dixon is actually back on the team. There is a battle happening now between him and Fisher for the starting punter role.

  4. Russell MacEachern says:

    as the Dip and Norma usually say if the Dougies OK with it forget him,its obvious were starting to aquire enough talented depth to shake it off!Were not where we want to be but were getting there!!da DIPPERR..watch out cause da “Cuse” is back..if they see us comin better step to the side,a lot teams did’nt and a lot of teams died..

  5. Russell MacEachern says:

    Id like to see the Dougie try that ultra-athlete Wayne Morgan,give him a shot though he might be a bit short,lets see if he can jar some ball’s loose!!da DIPPERR

  6. chris says:

    The odds on favorite to take the FS spot is Eskridge. A combination of size and speed required fo that important spot in the secondaryWhigham will also emerge as a top player in that group. Mungwa’s “tude” ultimately got to him and forced him to leave. Shamarko is set at the SS position. No need to force a decision there despite the calendar.

  7. Moskowitz says:

    Alrighty boys, thanks for reading.

    @Chris, Brian: I liked what I saw out of Eskridge at the Spring Game when the Fizz shot our inaugural FizzTV episode. The cameraderie he has with Oliver Vigille is also nice considering they won a ‘ship together in high school.

    I’m very interested to see who emerges from this young group of DBs. It’s going to at least be a competitive bunch considering the amount of newcomers and the lack of talent in the secondary.

  8. Ron says:

    @Jake Moskowitz,Unlike the last couple of years,when someone leaves the team,I believe Coach Marrones cupboard is full and replacing the departing player won’t be a problem.

    You mentioned the walk-on punter Riley Dixon as leaving the team. Jake I watched him during Fanfest and I’m telling you he was damn near hitting the dome roof with his kicks and was putting them from the 15 yard line to the opposing 16 yard line

    Is this something that has happened since the Fanfest? I would sure hate to see this kid go. He should be on scholarship.

    GO CUSE

  9. Russell MacEachern says:

    you know considering we have depth at rb and Nassib is entrenched at Qb I always thought Broyld would make a hellacious hardhitting ss or olb but it appears the Dougie needs him on offense to open things up!!Damn,its good to be a gangsta..lol..

  10. Russell MacEachern says:

    Oh,yeah,I forgot, da DIPPERR

  11. Russell MacEachern says:

    @Ron,notice above comment,it appears he’s w/team fighting for that scholly,excellent observations Ron!!!

  12. Tim1 says:

    Prince-Tyson Gulley to safety,

    following the tracks of Tebucky Jones and Diamond Ferri…

  13. Cuse Don't Luse says:

    Gulley moving wouldn’t be horrible but I definitely have confidence that someone will emerge… these are the things that we would like to have figured out now but only coach Henderson and Marrone truly have an idea about

  14. Russell MacEachern says:

    Hey CuseDontLuse,we gotta find a place for too much RB talent,move to S should’nt be difficult for one or even two of them!!Most played both positions in h.s…

  15. Russell MacEachern says:

    Man Im telling ya,watching taped games on ESPNU is getting tired!!Give me some cool breezes and hot live FOOTBALL..

  16. bgogo says:

    They already moved the frosh McFarland back to safety. I always liked Shu. He’s a loss for sure, but it seems like his dream lies in rapping, which he does in a very positive way. Wish the best to him. Should still be strong enough back there that it won’t hurt too much. No way Gulley goes back there, btw. He’ll see decent time at running back, especially on third and longs.

  17. Cuse don't luse says:

    Just a fun question label every running back on our roster with a defensive position

  18. Russell MacEachern says:

    Hey bgogo,did you ever get satisfaction on that troll that used your handle?

  19. Russell MacEachern says:

    @CDL,we have 9 rb’s in camp,how many will see the field?were gonna have too use at least 1 at db and maybe an undersized LBer!!

  20. Russell MacEachern says:

    make a list “Cuse” Im to lazy!!!

  21. Russell MacEachern says:

    Hey CDL did you see that SEC comparison I done on previous thread?What co u think?

  22. bigdip says:

    Hey “FF”- just looked at first four(or 3?stony brook) opponents, and the secondary will feel all the pressure!

    1Northwestern- 4 wides and will run the spread exclusively! Colter, dual Qb, had 1800 yds all purpose, including 400 at wr. They will be a good test, but…
    2USC is another beast. R. Woods & M. Lee are the college version of Rice & Taylor. Barkley is Montana…yadda yadda…torched us 38-17 in California in ’11. Huge test.monumental.colossal. game of all games…
    3 minnesota- SU ranked better than minn in def & off overall, but other d1 schools have torched the secondary in recent seasons. This maybe the winnable challenge for the secondary, early. They’ll run two wide sets, bringing in a SR on passing downs.

    * No challenge is too big, but those are the early tests. Lets hope guys play hard, TACKLE, and seize a “huge” moment. We’ll need EVERY Db for the first few games. There will times when 5-6 Dbs will be used. SU needs Morgan & Eskridge, whigham, kobena, thomas, anderson, & lyn, ready to play from day 1. And definitely against Barkley (Heisman?)

  23. Russell MacEachern says:

    thanks for the scouting report Dip.Im to lazy to look anything up tonight.

  24. Norma Stitz says:

    Everyone seems to be forgetting about Desir. That kid is a player! Love Eskridge at FS but look out for some of these young guys in the secondary. And I hope what Mosk meant by lack of talent in the secondary is that there isn’t a lot of older players that are talented in the secondary because the young secondary is absolutely talented. I also think that the new DB coach Henderson is gonna help a ton for these guys. You have already started to read that they are way more physical and aggressive with their hands than last year. He is gonna help a lot! Can’t wait to see them turn it around this year!

  25. Russell MacEachern says:

    I appoint you our official scribe and scouting officer!

  26. Russell MacEachern says:

    Duly noted Norma!!excellent thought.

  27. [...] wear Phillip Thomas’ old shoes and play opposite Shamarko Thomas this year, but it appears…[read more] Tweet This [...]

  28. Russell MacEachern says:

    Hey Dipper are you watching Northwestern on ESPNU while your eating ur C’pan Crunch??Sizing up the enemy this morning,give us some scouting tips w/ur usual philosphical touch.da Dipperr…

  29. Russell MacEachern says:

    @Dipper,I think we could come out of the first 4 games 3-1 and if we do this could be a special final BE season,at worse 2-2 and w/a 5-2 conference record have a shock the Nation shot at the BCS bid?5-2 could win BE with tiebreakers most seasons as everyone is competitive!!Anyone think we could achieve that this year or am I dreaming?…hope with the season close Im not getting lost in our little world but w/a few breaks….on “any given Saturday”!!!

  30. Russell MacEachern says:

    I know misspelled philosophical above…sorry FizzFam..

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