Remember when Syracuse seemed like a shoe in for five star tight end Chris Clark’s services? Then when SU pulled his offer, Orange fans were up in arms and confused. Four star recruits are a rare sight in Central New York, let alone a five star guy. Yesterday, Clark came to Syracuse as a member of the Pitt Panthers. But he was far from being the best tight end on the field.
Chris Clark: 0 receptions, 0 yards.
Ravian Pierce: 9 receptions, 99 yards.
Orange fans probably didn’t even realize Clark was in the building. All thanks to Syracuse’s newest big play threat Pierce. The junior college transfer, who at one point was committed to Mississippi State, was SU’s leading receiver against the Panthers.
For the Orange to find another receiving option alongside Steve Ishmael and Erv Philips could be the difference between a bowl game and preparing for next season. At the halfway mark, nobody has stepped up as a consistent third pass catcher.
While Pierce hasn’t shown that he is the best receiving option for the Orange, he does not have to be. The tight end has next level physical tools. Standing at 6-foot-3 and a hair under 240 pounds which is complemented by freakish athleticism, Pierce is one of the most intriguing red zone options for Eric Dungey. But this week against Pitt, we saw the junior thrive in picking up yards after the catch.
The biggest thing for Pierce moving forward is simply proving that he needs to be on the field. He has had problems with post-whistle penalties, which has begged the question of is his production worth the tradeoff. Through the first five games, Pierce only had 10 catches for 39 yards. But the production from last week should only be a sign of things to come. Pierce’s physical gifts are too important to keep off the field. As long as he can thrive in the mental part of the game, Syracuse may have found its third big play receiver.