Syracuse fans can breathe a little sigh of relief as Shamarko Thomas announces via Twitter he will return to the Hill next season:
“I’ve decided to put my NFL career on hold for another year and will remain at SU for another season to further develop myself as an athlete.”
This is a crucial month for SU football, and let’s hope Shamarko’s decision represents a fresh start in the new year. Over the next 30 days, Doug Marrone and his staff will need to work tirelessly to build a respectable recruiting class to make up for some gaping holes left because of the draft, suspensions and graduation. The good news is scholarships have now opened up to add some talent.
The Orange was flying high after a dominating win over West Virginia on national television. Since then, the program has endured a series of blows. The Orange collapsed losing the last five games of the season and missing a bowl. Phillip Thomas was suspended for an entire calendar year. Chandler Jones chose to test the NFL draft waters. Keon Lyn tweeted he will have offseason surgery.
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So thank goodness Shamarko is returning to a defensive secondary that will need his experience. ST’s departure would have meant three of the unit’s best players were gone from a defense that struggled even with them.
Thomas had an up and down season, due in some respect to injuries. He was still effective though, finishing third on the team in total tackles (67). The secondary was eaten up all year, even when Shamarko was playing. But with Thomas was sidelined, the defensive backfield was torched. Robert Woods and USC stomped all over SU’s secondary and the Orange then made Toledo’s Eric Page look like… well, Robert Woods.
From his safety position, Shamarko has the ability to both come up and play the run, and cover receivers in the slot and make plays in pass coverage. He is great in the open field and a secure tackler that minimizes big gains. When Thomas is playing, the entire defense seems to take on his attitude and play with an edge.
Why is Shamarko staying put for his senior season?
“Cusenation I feel like I’m not done yet I feel like @PThomas_1. Nd @ChanJones99 set their mark at cuse as great athletes I feel like I didn’t”
Had Shamarko received high-round draft grades, he probably would have left SU whether he felt he had left his mark or not. But some humility can only serve him well. A chance to play an entire season healthy is an exciting prospect. The next step for Doug Marrone is to piece together an impressive recruiting class following a gut-wrenching season. It won’t erase the some of the tough news the program has received, but there’s no time to look backward for SU football.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert