How do you describe a Syracuse fan favorite? Someone who for four years, left his heart and soul out on the football field with every snap? A player who reversed the trajectory of Dino Babers‚Äô head coaching tenure, and engineered SU‚Äôs most memorable win of the decade?
Well, if I had to pick one word to describe Eric Dungey, it would be competitor. Dungey began his Syracuse career battling to earn the backup spot behind Terrel Hunt, and ended his career conquering West Virginia to claim the Orange‚Äôs first bowl win since 2013. In between, he started 38 games, threw for almost 10,000 yards, was responsible for 93 touchdowns, and set/tied 25 Syracuse football records.¬†
Dungey was thrown into the fire as a freshman. Starting QB Hunt tore his ACL in the first quarter of the 2015 season opener, and in came the former three-star recruit from Lake Oswego, Oregon, who had won the backup role over five other quarterbacks. Dungey tossed two touchdowns in SU‚Äôs win over Rhode Island, and was named the starter the next week. He was QB1 the next seven games, and performed admirably for a first year signal-caller. Dungey threw for almost 1300 yards and ran for just over 350 before a concussion during the Louisville game knocked him out for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the Orange finished the season 4-8, and Head Coach Scott Shafer was fired.
Next season, Babers took the helm, and Dungey was the starter from day one. Although he had to learn a new offense (and wasn‚Äôt given much help by his defense), Dungey still produced. He put up good numbers all year, throwing for 300-plus yards 6 times (tying Ryan Nassib‚Äôs SU record), completing over 60% of his passes in 7 of 9 games, and had a couple ridiculous games. Against Boston College, Dungey threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns, and only six incompletions. He also recorded his first 100-yard rushing game (he ran for 200) of his career in the season opener against Western Michigan. Dungey played in the first 9 games of 2016 before once again succumbing to another head injury, this time down in Death Valley.
Dungey‚Äôs junior year, from a glance, looks like the same old story. Syracuse goes 4-8 for the third straight year in a row while its QB sets the Orange record for total offense and leads the team in rushing, but then he gets injured and the season falls apart.
However, one of those four wins happened to be against second-ranked Clemson.
The 27-24 victory certainly ranks up there as one of the greatest wins in Syracuse history, and turned public opinion back in Babers‚Äô favor. And that got the hype train rolling for Dungey‚Äôs final campaign.
It was an magical year. A 10-3 finish, a number 15 ranking, and the Camping World Bowl win to boot. Best of all, Dungey finally made it through a full season, and came out on the other end with accolades. He was named to the All-ACC third team, was a semifinalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, won ACC QB of the week four times, and was given the Bill Horr trophy for SU‚Äôs team MVP. Dungey finished his career on the Hill ranked in the top five in ACC history in career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, most 400-plus yard total offense games, total offense yards per game, total offense yards, and plays at the end of his senior season.
Dungey unfortunately hasn‚Äôt yet found a place in the NFL, but he‚Äôll always be welcomed back to Central New York with open arms.