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Two-Deep Tango: Was Switching Max Beaulieu to Offense Smart by Syracuse?

Upon the release of the SU depth chart yesterday, one name was predictably missing: Max Beaulieu. And that makes me wonder if Marrone and co. did the right thing switching him to offense before last year. Beaulieu enters his redshirt sophomore season as a work-in-progress tight end nowhere near the depth chart. With the additions of Sugar Bear Thompson and Josh Parris, you have to wonder if Beaulieu will ever make a huge impact for SU.

This is not the first time I’ve sighed at the story of Max. Last summer at the time of the switch I wrote about the bizarre legacy of the University School in that ’10 class, and the disappointment that Mad Max was never going to be the QB terror we all hoped. He also told The Fizz last season he was approached by Marrone to switch to offense, and was surprised by the move.

This roster is the first one totally assembled by Marrone. He took the job just a few months before ’09 National Signing Day. The ’10 Class was that monster, 31 players signed. And one of the biggest names was Beaulieu. A 3-star defensive end from Ft. Launderdale was supposed to be the beast pass rusher, and game-changer on defense.

Generally speaking, I trust Marrone. I remember the bad ol’ days very well, and before The Dougie took over it was bleak around here. Really bleak. Like Contagion bleak. So I look at the 2012 Syracuse football season with optimism. Despite the collapse of last year, it always feels like Marrone has his finger on the pulse of the squad and can squeeze enough out of his players. I think they have a very good chance at 6 wins and a bowl game. But I do wonder about the move of Max.

Here was his scouting report as a senior in high school:

“We watched Max last year and throughout the spring and summer and felt that he was a top-flight college football prospect. He’s one of the state’s better players.

This is not just one of those ordinary talents who schools from the Northeast come in and get. This is an athlete who was being heavily recruited by schools such as Purdue, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina and Nebraska.”

Fast forward to this summer. Here’s Dave Rahme’s take from two weeks ago, the very last paragraph on practice notes from day 5 of camp:

“The mystery of sophomore tight end Max Beaulieu continues. The converted defensive lineman watched a Loeb pass on a midrange slant whiz past him and get picked off but later delivered the best block of the scrimmage, an open-field flattening of middle linebacker Siriki Diabate. If Beaulieu can learn to catch more consistently he could help this team.”

Those words make me cringe. “If he can learn to catch…” Well, he’s a tight end. So, yeah that’s kinda important. Maybe he just grows into a force of nature blocker and that’s his contribution to the team. And the fact he still has three years of eligibility is encouraging.

I just look at this defensive line and think about his potential impact there. Losing Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich leave big voids. There does seem to be help on the way with some recent recruits. But I wonder if it wouldn’t have been best to let him develop on defense and hope that eventually he figured it out.

Maybe this isn’t even on the coaching staff. Maybe we just have to look at Beaulieu and chalk him up as a high school stud that just didn’t translate at the next level. More than anything, it’s just disappointing that three seasons into his college career and Max doesn’t even show up on SU’s two-deep.

Posted: D.A.

Should SU have switched Max to tight end?

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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