The Syracuse coaching staff has a pretty solid idea of which players will start against Villanova in six days. There were only two positions in camp where players openly competed for starting positions. The first was offensive guard. Nick Robinson, Rob Trudo and Omari Palmer went into camp fighting for the two starting roles on the outsides. The competition is ongoing and all three of these players have the ability to start.
The other fight is for the second defensive tackle spot. Unlike the guard position, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough does not have a single player that he feels deserves to start.
Replacing Jay Bromley, last year’s sack leader, was always going to be difficult. It is surprising however, that the season is less than a week away and there is still no clear front-runner. Senior Eric Crume returns as one of the defensive tackle starters after having offseason knee surgery. Sophomores Isaiah Johnson, Marcus Coleman and Ron Thompson as well as juniors Wayne Williams and Ryan Sloan are competing to play next to Crume this year.
With five players vying for one spot, SU will most likely play defensive tackle by committee until someone emerges as the second starter. Johnson and Thompson are likely see the most time. Both defensive lineman played a lot last year and have worked exclusively this spring and summer at tackle. Coleman did not feature as much last season, but was listed alongside Crume as the other top tackle on the spring depth chart. Williams, a junior college transfer, has had some impressive days in camp, but he still is not as fit as the SU coaches would like which will hurt his standing. Sloan is also on the outside looking in. He was listed below freshman Jalen Harvey on the spring depth chart and played sparingly last season.
Bullough said to the Post Standard earlier this week that Harvey as well as the other freshman tackle Keyton Samuels will feature if called upon. Usually freshmen are not physically ready for college football, however. So these two should really only be used as last resorts.
The opener against Villanova on Friday will paint a clearer picture of where each player stands in this defensive tackle competition.
Posted by: Connor Morrissette