It‚Äôs becoming more and more likely that college football will make its way back sooner rather than later. SEC Presidents will vote today on when athletes are allowed back on campus this summer, and it seems like they are leaning towards June 1. Ohio State plans to bring football players back on June 8. While the NCAA has allowed players back for voluntary workouts on June 1, the ACC has to lift its own suspension of activities. That‚Äôs likely to be fairly soon.¬†
With that in mind, which Syracuse players will benefit most from summer workouts in preparation for next season?
Drew Tuazama ‚Äì Redshirt Freshman DE
In Syracuse‚Äôs spring depth chart, Tuazama was listed as a starter after appearing in just one game last season. Tuazama was a talented offensive and defensive player in high school, and thrived on the basketball court as well. After a year behind Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman, Tuazama appears ready to step in and fill the same role. He has the body build that Dino Babers likes ‚Äì a lean, quick edge rusher at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds.
It will be interesting to see how Tuazama does in Tony White‚Äôs 3-3-5 defensive scheme. Generally defensive ends are much bigger and serve more as run defenders in the 3-3-5, but Tuazama is about the same size as Coleman. He is taller so maybe Syracuse expects him to continue to fill out and become more of a presence on the line. But regardless, Tuazama needed more reps as the starter before heading into his first full season.¬†
Geoff Cantin‚ÄìArku ‚Äì Sophomore MLB
It seems like an annual tradition at this point, but Babers seemingly finds a new middle linebacker each season. Last season Cantin-Arku spent most of the season on special teams. But now, he‚Äôs expected to slide into Lakiem Williams‚Äô spot. Moving from special teams to starting middle linebacker is a huge jump, and Cantin-Arku isn‚Äôt helped by no spring practice. Besides already missing months of development and cohesion with the rest of the defense, Cantin-Arku is also tasked with helping teammates line up in a brand new defense. For a team that struggled mightily on run defense last season, this is still a major area of concern.
Taj Harris ‚Äì Junior WR
After a somewhat frustrating sophomore season, Harris should be the focal point of the Orange offense. Harris essentially had the same exact season in his sophomore campaign that he did in his freshman season. Rather than progress into a go-to target, he stagnated. Now, with no Trishton Jackson streaking down the sideline, Harris should be Tommy DeVito‚Äôs number one target.¬†
Tommy DeVito ‚Äì Redshirt Junior QB
After an up-and-down season a year ago DeVito must improve his pocket presence and decision making. Granted, Syracuse‚Äôs offensive line must improve, but it was markedly better once Matthew Bergeron took over at tackle. DeVito needs to become a better leader for the Orange, as well as a quicker passer. Some of this has to do with the offenses transition to less deep passes. Since those plays took so long to develop, DeVito had to scramble around, buying time the O-line didn‚Äôt grant him. This season, he must look for more underneath routes from slot receivers like Nykeim Johnson.