We know the Orange prides itself on its fast paced, down the field offense. However, you need a balanced attack to a certain degree to open up the field. With that being said, the Orange’s running back situation is in flux at the moment. There have been a lot of moving parts over the offseason, so let’s clear up the entire situation.
Looking at the team’s departures from the spring/summer Jordan Fredericks was supposed to be an integral part of the offense when he stepped on campus, but he was underwhelming and transferred to Massachussetts. Then, the Orange’s other young, promising back made a move. However, he stayed on the team. Moe Neal switched positions from running back to wide receiver. Neal showed promise with his first college carry by dashing 49 yards into the endzone and showed other signs of breakaway potential, however, only racked up 68 carries for the entire season.
That leaves SU with just one running back that has recorded a college carry. That guy is Dontae Strickland, who has just one career 100+ yard game. In fact, the rising junior averages just 3.5 yard per carry and did not produce much in the receiving game as well. While Strickland will likely start the year as the bell cow from the backfield, but that could change with the incoming recruits.
Syracuse just picked up another recruit in the class of 2017 in running back Luke Erickson, however, he is just a walk on and likely won’t see the field for the foreseeable future. However, the other major running back option could be a force. Markenzy Pierre may just have three stars to his name, but his tape suggests otherwise. The Florida native tore up high school fields in Kissimmee and has many SU fans salivating over his talents. Don’t be surprised if the freshman steps in and is a force from day one. Along with Pierre, fellow freshman Allen Stritzinger will join the Orange next year. While Stritzinger’s is listed as a safety, he told the Fizz on National Signing Day that one of the reasons he picked SU was because Dino Babers offered him the opportunity to play offense. The Michigan native played running back in high school, so he could see some action out of the backfield, especially if the ground game struggles early on.
Then looking even further ahead, Syracuse locked up its first running back in the Class of 2018 recently. The Orange received a commitment from Akeem Dixon. The bruiser from Florida can put his head down and shed tackles, which is a change of pace from what Strickland provides.
It’s a position that has so much history at Syracuse. But now, it doesn’t need to be great, but needs to be consistent for the Orange offense to thrive. The pieces are in place to do that, however, much of the talent is unproven.