Over Dino Babers’ tenure at Syracuse, he’s flipped the trajectory of the program. Gone are the days of 4-8 seasons. Now, it’s not crazy for SU fans to imagine consistent 10 win seasons. Babers’ up-tempo offense has played a huge role in the turnaround. So has a much improved offensive line and defense. But another reason why the Orange are hanging with the top teams in the ACC is the depth that has accumulated in the past couple of seasons.
When Babers arrived to Syracuse, he was dealing with a depleted roster that needed a full revamping. Now his back-ups have quality back-ups. Last year SU had to replace its two star linebackers, Paris Bennett and Zaire Franklin, that served as anchors to the defense. Ryan Guthrie and Kielan Whitner stepped up and each had at least 100 tackles. This season, the pressure’s on Andrew Armstrong and Lakiem Williams. Armstrong had some bright moments a year ago, including a game sealing interception against NC State. Meanwhile Williams didn’t play much last season, but neither had Guthrie and Whitner before last season. And if Williams or Armstrong struggle, Babers has a couple talented freshman waiting to hear their names called.
On the offensive line, Babers has been stocking up talent for a couple of years in preparation of graduations this past year. Next year, SU will have three new starters, including a redshirt freshman left tackle. After a year in the program Carlos Vettorello is tasked with protecting Tommy DeVito’s blind side. In the past two recruiting cycles, Babers signed seven offensive lineman. If there’s any position group that a coach needs to sign back-ups to fill in for injuries, it’s the offensive line.
And of course, Babers has stocked his roster with talented skill position players as well. It seems every year there’s a breakout receiver. A couple years ago Erv Phillips and Steve Ishmael took the reigns from Amba Etta-Tawo. Then last season, it seemed like Jamal Custis would be the focal point for Eric Dungey. But Custis dropped too many passes, so more attention was turned to slot receiver Sean Riley, and true freshman Taj Harris. If one guy wasn’t getting the job done, Babers has enough playmakers to step up and make a difference. And Taj Harris wasn’t even the top receiver to sign with Syracuse from the 2018 recruiting class. That would be Ed Hendrix who redshirted a season ago. Add in the addition of transfer Trishton Jackson, and there’s a lot of talent along the receiving group. Just like there is throughout the rest of SU’s roster.