The Orange knows it’s in need of some special teams upgrades.
Special teams is usually not a major topic of conversation. However, a potential kicker Syracuse has been targeting might be just who the Orange needs.
Sterling Hofrichter, a 3-star placekicker, visited the Orange this past weekend on his trip to the Hill. Syracuse is the only school to offer the Florida product but Auburn and Tennessee have shown interest. Hofrichter told the Post-Standard:
“[Shafer] told me I’m their man and they’re not going to offer anybody, but if it gets too late later on and they don’t know if I’m going to commit to them, they might offer another kicker.”
Syracuse clearly knows who they want to take over the kicking duties when Krautman leaves. It is hard for a recruit who is interested in a school to reject a program who basically is handing over the placekicking duties to him and letting him know they are not offering others.
Kicking has been an under-the-radar issue for the Orange over the past few years. The Orange has seen plenty of missed extra points and chip shots that have sailed wide of the sticks—and Syracuse is traditionally a team that needs to convert on its chances on the opponent’s side of the field.
Ross Krautman, as successful of a kicker as he has been, has been plagued by injuries recently. He will, however, return for a fifth year after undergoing surgery on his hip last season. The punting duties will remain with Riley Dixon, who did a phenomenal job after being granted a scholarship. Dixon thrived in pinning Syracuse opponents behind the 20-yard line and avoiding touchbacks. He also had a pretty long punt last season too.
Ryan Norton will also likely be back in the kickoff role. Norton has had his fair share of off-the-field incidences, most recently violating team rules resulting in a temporary suspension in the spring. He also took over the placekicking duties after Krautman’s injury. Unfortunately for the Orange, Norton struggled throughout the season, going 10-for-15 on his field goals.
More importantly, Scott Shafer showed a lack of confidence in his kicking game at a time when points came at a premium for the Syracuse offense.
Syracuse needs to lock up Hofrichter to solidify the future kicking game. With a team who relies on its defense more than scoring points, a strong kicker could be the difference between a winning and losing season. The Orange did its part in offering the kicking spot in the 2015 class to the Seffner, FL native. Now they must play the waiting game.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell