It was pretty exciting when Syracuse received verbals from three offensive linemen on the same day last week. While this is bright for the future of the Orange line, there are still plenty of players already on the roster who will be able to make an impact in 2014, and who will be around to play with the new recruits in 2015.
The offensive line has been a definite strength for the Orange in the past couple of years, highlighted by none other than Justin Pugh, who was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Four of the five starters from last year are returning, but a few are shuffling positions.
At the moment, the current starting offensive line from spring practice features a good balance of experience and youth. Redshirt senior left tackle Sean Hickey will anchor the line. Some thought he would leave the Orange after his junior season to enter the draft, but he decided to stay instead. He will play alongside Omari Palmer, a sophomore guard. While Palmer will see a lot of time starting in the spring, Hickey’s partner on the left side of the line, Nick Robinson, is recovering from a lower body injury. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season and can be played at either of the guard positions.
Junior Rob Troudo and redshirt sophomore Jason Emerich will battle to replace Macky MacPherson, a staple in the Syracuse offensive line from past years. Troudo has played regularly in each of the last two years for the Orange, while Emerich saw some action last year, but it was usually in garbage time. The competition is a real one, however, as the door seems to be open for Emerich, Troudo, or John Miller to seize the job.
Miller, a junior, is listed on the depth chart as a right guard and could also vie for a starting spot at center. He played in five games last season as a JUCO transfer and is an interesting project for Shafer, who called him the most improved player of the spring. Otherwise, Miller could sit behind Robinson on the depth chart. Kyle Knapp was also an Orange prospect, but after a series of concussions, has reportedly called it quits on his football career.
Capping the right side of the line is another battle, between junior Michael Lasker and sophomore Jon Burton. Lasker is favored to start, and played in five games last season as a JUCO transfer. Burton should be the backup, barring injury.
Not mentioned on the depth chart is Ivan Foy, who was suspended earlier in the year for academic issues. Foy started every game for the Orange last season at right tackle and will be missed if he cannot straighten his grades out. He, too, is expected back for the start of the season – which will come as a relief to many fans.
Posted by: Jason Weingold