The feeling around Syracuse football will certainly feel different this season than in years past. Entering the third year of Dino Babers’ tenure, “his guys” are starting to be the ones to fill roles across the field as opposed to Scott Shafer’s.
But even as Babers’ recruits have grown older, there are plenty of impact players that can step in and play right away. The Orange’s Class of 2018 featured a number of promising prospects, some of which you’ve already heard us blow up here at The Fizz. SU’s class was ranked 50th in the country and ninth in the ACC, according to 247Sports.
Along with some budding talent on the roster, the NCAA’s new redshirt rule will also impact how much playing time these freshmen get. The new rule states that players may appear in up to four games and still maintain redshirt eligibility. The previous rule stated that an appearance in a game would eliminate a player’s redshirt ability unless there was a medical hardship. That prevented a number of players, notably Tommy DeVito last season, from seeing the field because having that extra year of eligibility was not worth risking for a handful of games. That being said, here are the five true freshmen to be on the lookout for in 2018.
Andre Cisco – Safety
At the moment, Cisco is the lone true freshman lined up to start. We here at The Fizz have been high on Cisco since the spring practices. The IMG Academy product enrolled early and has since been a force in the spring scrimmages as well as summer camp. He’s been a force physically, which isn’t always common for young guys that are adjusting to the next level. By all accounts, it seems like Cisco is well ahead of the learning curve and could be one of the most exciting players on the defense.
Trill Williams – Cornerback
You may remember Williams for his highlight reel plays in high school that landed him as the top play on SportsCenter last season. While he won’t be playing receiver for the Orange in 2018, his knack for the incredible can be equally as exciting on defense. It may be tough for Williams to crack the rotation. He’s listed on the depth chart under the “OR” umbrella alongside junior Carl Jones for a backup cornerback spot. But it’s certainly noteworthy that he will compete for a backup spot out of the gate. If there’s an injury in the secondary, it’s more assuring than in years past that there is promise behind the starters.
Ed Hendrix – Wide Receiver
Hendrix may be the name you remember best when looking back on the legacy of the Class of 2018. The skill positions are the toughest to break into across college football, but that’s especially the case in the Orange’s up-tempo offense. But with some questions looming at the receiver position as to who is going to step up, that may allow Hendrix’s talent to shine through. He’s been drawing praise in camp and his combination of speed and a 6-foot-3 frame make him arguably the most potent offensive players in the class. But we’ll have to wait and see if he cracks the depth chart ahead of Week One against Western Michigan.
Cam Jonas – Safety
Jonas is coming off of an ACL tear from a year ago and hasn’t seen game action since his junior year of high school. Regardless, the Orange never wavered from their offer. Jonas is one of three freshman (all of which appear on this list) that makes an appearance on the preseason depth chart. He’s been designated as an “OR” on the depth chart, which means he’s competing for a spot as a backup. Jonas is currently competing with redshirt freshman Eric Coley to be the backup strong safety. All indications from camp are that the defensive backs are dominating the wide receivers early on, and Jonas is a part of that group.
Anthony Queeley – Wide Receiver
Queeley may be a name you weren’t expecting to see on this list. However, his teammates have given him high praise. Nickelback Antwan Cordy sang his praises, which is promising for the Florida product. Like Hendrix, the receiver position seems to be wide open. Especially for a team that runs plenty of four and five receiver sets. Queeley may get his test run with the new redshirt rule. And if he capitalizes, there will be more and more snaps for him down the line if none of the returning players can step up as Eric Dungey’s glue guy.