Now that we’re almost halfway through June, and Syracuse football hasn’t made much traction on the recruiting trail, it seems like a good time to look at next season’s opponents. Specifically the best player on each of those teams. So, this list will go game by game to give Orange fans a preview of who to look out for.
Liberty – RB Frankie Hickson
Last season Hickson ran for over 1,000 yards, to pair with 11 touchdowns. Liberty rarely used the rising senior in the passing game, as he caught just 10 balls. But the Flames will likely boast a whole different offense with new head coach Hugh Freeze running the show. Obviously, from his time at Ole Miss, Freeze is well known for his dynamic offenses. Hickson is undersized at just 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, but he’s quick, elusive, and has great vision. Here’s some of his tape from his freshman season.
Maryland – LB Isaiah Davis
Just like Liberty, Maryland has a new head coach as former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley took the reins this offseason. He won’t have many offensive weapons to rely on, and the Terps best defensive player from last season, Tre Watson, graduated and signed with the Miami Dolphins. But Locksley does have Davis, who totaled 94 tackles and two sacks last season.
Clemson – QB Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence could be the best player in the country, and could easily be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in a couple of years. As a freshman, he usurped starter Kelly Bryant, who ended up transferring to Missouri. Then he proceeded to thrash through Nick Saban’s dynasty 44-16 in a humiliating defeat for the Crimson Tide. By the end of the year Lawrence threw for 30 TD’s to go along with just four interceptions. In other words, for every one pick, he threw 7.5 touchdowns. Personally if I was Dabo Swinney, I wouldn’t run the ball. Ever. Besides boasting an absurd touchdown to interception ratio, Lawrence threw for over 3,200 yards and had a completion percentage of 65.2%. If you want to have nightmares for the next three months, check out these highlights. Or don’t, I wouldn’t blame you.
Western Michigan – QB Jon Wassink
Wassink had Western Michigan in position to potentially be MAC champions last season, until he was lost for the season against Toledo in the ninth game of the season. In that span the rising senior threw for just under 2000 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also threw just six picks. If Wassink can stay healthy in his last season in Kalamazoo, he could be headed towards a huge season.
Holy Cross – RB Domenic Cozier
Cozier is a small, versatile running back who can hurt opponents from all over the field. Last season, he ran for just 643 yards, but also recorded over 100 yards receiving for a team-leading nine touchdowns. Last year Cozier was named second-team All-Patriot League. Last season Holy Cross only played 11 games, finishing with a 5-6 record.
NC State – S Jarius Morehead
Next season will almost certainly be a rebuilding season for the Wolfpack. NC State is tasked with replacing All-ACC First Team quarterback Ryan Finley, as well as its top running back, and top two wide receivers. Dave Doeren’s squad also has to replace tackle leader Germaine Pratt, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the NFL Draft. So Morehead becomes the leader of the team. Now Morehead’s a very good player, the safety stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 81 tackles, 3 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and four passes defended. He’s nasty. But that’s a lot of talent to replace next year.