Three years ago, Dino’s Babers’ received a gift he had no idea about. Eric Dungey took a chance and came to Syracuse, across the country from his Oregon home. At the time, Babers was the head coach at Bowling Green, a year away from becoming the head man at SU. Now, the two are a match made in heaven. In the Orange’s scheme, Dungey’s dual threat ability has catapulted him to become one of the conference’s top signal callers.
But for the first time in his career, Dungey has someone breathing down his neck. Redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito spent last season on the sidelines, likely against his and Dino Babers will. If the same situation were to arise this season, DeVito undoubtedly would have played last season with the new redshirt rules, which allows a player to play in up to four games before losing redshirt eligibility. He is arguably the most talented player on the Orange’s roster as a former ESPN top 300 recruit. Now, DeVito may have a chance to be “the guy” on the team. Babers has even said that the prized prospect will have a chance to compete for the starting job with Dungey in fall camp.
While, Dungey is still the likely starter, he has never had competition in his career. His freshman year he came in as the backup to Terrel Hunt and assumed the starting role after Hunt’s season-ending injury. Since then, his only competition has been Zack Mahoney, a walk-on turned scholarship quarterback. No disrespect to Mahoney because he did provide the Orange with some quality spot starts, but he only won one game as a starter during his tenure at SU and opposing teams were definitely breathing a sigh of relief that Mahoney was under center as opposed to Dungey.
Star of the Group: Eric Dungey
Dungey has gone from a guy with minimal Power Five interest to one of the better quarterbacks in the country. He’s a perfect fit for the offense that Babers runs with his ability to sling it and also use his legs. Dungey’s never had a winning season. He was seemingly on track to bring the Orange at least a .500 year last season before he went down with a foot injury. But the way he carries himself wouldn’t make you think he’s not a winner. Dungey’s a gamer and one of the toughest players on the team and genuinely isn’t afraid of any opposing player or team, a trait that will serve him and SU well in 2018. He has back-to-back years of 2,400 yards or better. If he can stay healthy, that will easily turn into 3,500.
Something to Prove: Tommy DeVito
For the first time, Orange fans won’t be panicking if Dungey goes down. DeVito has impressed early throughout his career, but it’s only been on the practice field. We won’t know what he has until he steps between the real lines. But there’s promise at the backup spot and DeVito might even have a chance to start, per Babers. If that’s genuinely true, then the position is in good hands for the foreseeable future.
Strength: Star Power and Experience
It’s not often that you get a player to be a four year starter at quarterback. That’s exactly what Dungey is heading into his senior year. He has seen (and even beaten) some of the best teams the country has to offer. His backup is no longer a former walk-on. It’s a former Elite Eleven showcase prospect. There’s talent top to bottom which makes quarterback the team’s best position.
This applies only to one guy, but he is the star. Dungey may be entering his fourth year as a starter, but he’s only logged two seasons worth of games. Dungey insists his concussion history isn’t as bad as people think it is. He’s confident this year will be the one he’s healthy, and if he is, then that is the key to becoming a bowl team.
The quarterback position is as strong as its been in recent memory. Not just that, but it’s one of the deepest in the conference. With a position as crucial as quarterback, it’s good to have a backup plan like the Orange has. Even if Dungey can’t stay healthy, there’s a replacement who may be more than capable of taking over the team. This is a quarterback friendly offense, and SU has the guys who can take this team to the postseason.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Punter/Kicker (8/15) | Return Specialists (8/24)