After a double-digit win season in 2018, the hype train for the upcoming season in Syracuse is packed to the brim. The Orange are less than a month away from beginning their most-anticipated season in recent memory. If SU wants to continue its rise to national prominence, a few players are going to need to thrive.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll detail the five players that need to have healthy, productive seasons if the Orange are going to meet the rising outside expectations.
#4 RT Ryan Alexander
Alexander is the only player on this list that didn’t play at Syracuse last year. The South Alabama grad-transfer comes to Syracuse as an unknown of sorts. While logic says the All-Sun Belt-honorable mention performer will slide into one of the vacant tackle spots and bring some much needed experience, he’s not listed as the starter on the spring depth chart. Now the likely reason for that is simple: he hadn’t been on campus when the depth chart was made. Hard to just give a newcomer the top spot based on nothing he’s done at the program.
Given that, it would still be a surprise if Alexander didn’t start game one at Liberty. It’s tough to visualize a world where a grad-transfer in his last year of eligibility with a solid track record doesn’t see action this year.
Why Alexander’s production is crucial
If Alexander isn’t a starter at one of the tackle spots, SU is likely sending out two freshman to protect the edges in Carlos Vetterello and Anthony Red. Unless, of course, veteran center Aaron Servais shifts back to a tackle spot like he was listed on the spring depth chart. It’s a puzzle at this point. But, that’s why Alexander is so crucial. At the ACC Kickoff, Dino Babers told us the offensive line is “the key to the season.”
Of all the position groups right now it’s the most vulnerable. The guys in the trenches were a big reason why Syracuse took a leap forward last year. Now the Orange need some veteran leadership and stability at the tackle spots this year to keep the hype train moving forward. Ryan Alexander could be the guy for the job. If he’s not, a scary amount of reliance gets placed on youth at the position and the ceiling of this team could change.
We’ll continue to unveil our top five throughout the month of August. Check back here on these days as we continue to get you ready for the much-anticipated 2019 football season. Also, make sure to check out our audio content on SoundCloud at Orange Fizz. We post a weekly show, podcasts and more.
August 1st: #5 Andre Cisco
August 5th: #4 Ryan Alexander
August 8th: #3
August 12th: #2
August 15th: #1