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Dontae Strickland Should Play As True Freshman Next Year

The stifled running game would get a big boost from the high school star.

It’s time for Scott Shafer to consider making a true freshman the centerpiece of the 2015 offense. New Jersey running back and Syracuse commit Dontae Strickland once again led his South Brunswick team to a playoff victory Friday. The running back caught a 20-yard touchdown pass and rushed for 85 yards on just ten carries in his team’s 33-0 semifinal win over Trenton.

The Vikings will face third-seeded Manalapan in the Central Group V final the weekend of Dec. 5-7. It’s a rematch of the 2012 final won by South Brunswick. Strickland’s big day happened 24 hours before Syracuse’s rushing attack looked as weak as ever in SU’s 30-7 loss against Pitt. The Orange did not have a single player rush for over 35 yards in the game. The team has not had a 100-yard rusher since Devante McFarlane ran for 114 yards against Wake Forest five weeks ago. That’s unacceptable for an offense that has touted its running game all season.

Shafer clearly needs to do something differently next season if he wants to be around much longer. He should start by looking to youth. Shafer has stuck with seniors Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore at the running back position this year and they have simply not produced. The pair has combined to score only two touchdowns this season.

Strickland’s offers should convince Shafer the young back deserves reps right away. Strickland was offered by a Big 12 team, two Big 10 teams and three ACC teams. His talent is evident, and he has more potential than any of SU’s other running backs. He’s also a pass catching threat coming out of the backfield. A duo of Strickland and Erv Phillips sounds much better than a duo of Gulley and Ameen-Moore or McFarlane and Morris.

SU’s offense has been so ineffective this season that any incoming freshman who can contribute should be seriously considered to play significant minutes next season. Strickland is one of the top players in Syracuse’s 2015 class and should be utilized as soon as possible.

Posted: Connor Morrissette

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