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SU Top 100: Biggest Surprises

We did it. We have officially made it through our SU Top 100 list. To do something like this takes a lot of time and effort. It’s definitely not easy. The staff at Orange Fizz is proud of the list we came up with, but obviously nothing is perfect. So this week, we will be looking back at our work to see where we can improve.

We’ve already released the “Biggest Snubs,” “Most Underrated” and “Most Overrated.” Now, we are doing our best Swaggy P impression (please tell me you get that reference) and looking at the “Biggest Surprises.” Here are the athletes that made the list who we were surprised by:

Brad: Sterling Hofrichter

There is something to be said for being the best at your position in program history. Sterling Hofrichter is the best punter to ever do it on the Hill, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a punter. I understand he had three All-ACC selections, and two first-team nods. He is the only player to be selected to the conference’s all first-team multiple times. Hofrichter was a Ray Guy Award finalist for punter of the year in each of his four seasons. My biggest gripe with Hofrichter being on this list is that he never won the Ray Guy Award. For a position like punter, my mental criteria is a little higher than it is for others. To know that there was a better punter than Hofrichter out there each season just doesn’t cut it. 

Gill: Zaire Franklin

The best thing going for four-year starting linebacker Zaire Franklin was his longevity and leadership. Only four players in SU football history can say they were captain for three years, as voted by fellow teammates. Franklin started every single football game over his four years. So while Franklin was an essential locker room character, he just wasn’t a good enough player to be on his list, much less the top-75. His highest honor is an All-ACC Third team in his junior year. That doesn’t quite cut it here. 

Thomas: Jim Boeheim

This was a name I didn’t expect to see on the list. Of course, if we include his coaching career, Boeheim has a candidacy for the No. 1 overall spot. But since we’re just talking about collegiate athletic careers, why is Boeheim listed? In his three seasons with the varsity team, Boeheim didn’t start until his senior season. While that’s an impressive accomplishment for a former walk-on, it doesn’t bode well in a ranking of the programs best players of all time. Boeheim also averaged under 10 points in his career in Orange, and didn’t crack double-digits until his senior campaign. Of course, when you share a backcourt with Dave Bing, it’s generally a better decision to give up the rock. They made quite a tandem, and Boeheim was assuredly a fan favorite as a former walk-on. But that doesn’t mean he should be listed here. 

Jaron: Tyus Battle

Obviously the name Tyus Battle isn’t unfamiliar for Syracuse fans. He is only a season removed from donning the orange. However, it is a bit of a surprise for me to see him on the list. There are 30 men’s basketball players on our SU Top 100 list and in my opinion, Battle isn’t a top-30 player in program history. He had a great sophomore campaign, the statistical best in SU history, but took a dip the next year, followed by a premature declaration to the NBA Draft. The fact that Battle is on this list shows some recency bias. Tyus Battle doesn’t pop in my head when I think of the best athletes in Syracuse University history.

Matt: Don McPherson

Don McPherson is one of the best players in Syracuse football history, I’m not surprised to see him on this list, but I’m surprised to see him this high. Ten is a spot reserved for those that were truly great. McPherson never won a bowl game, and finished up his career at SU with stats that were frankly worse than those of Eric Dungey, Ryan Nassib, and Marvin Graves who flew way under him on this list. Of course when on the subject of McPherson it must be acknowledged that he took over in a time when SU football was really struggling and in his final season with the team willed his squad to an undefeated season, but does that really warrant tenth on this list? I don’t think so.

Ian: Marvin Harrison

Outside of Central New York, Marvin Harrison is known for his connection with Peyton Manning, and all of his other numerous NFL achievements. Eight straight seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, nine three-touchdown games, the pro football single-season reception record, and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame among them. However, most football fans don’t realize that Marvin Harrison attended Syracuse. 

D.A.: Carmelo Anthony

He delivered a national championship. He was the best player in the nation that season. But did he have a greater collegiate career than Donovan McNabb or Gary Gait. It depends on how you define immortality. If one spring of magic is enough then Melo slots here. But if you’re talking about a full resume, it’s impossible to pit Anthony against Gait. Gary Gait helped lead SU to three straight national championships and is arguably the greatest collegiate lax player ever. While Melo was dominant for one year, he’s not considered a player on par with Bill Walton, Patrick Ewing or Lew Alcindor in terms of collegiate portfolio and greatness. That’s the type of player Gait was on the lax field. 

Tyler: Riley Dixon

No one garnered a larger fanbase while I was in school than Dixon (Christian White was a close second). When I saw he was nominated for this list, I was a bit confused. A punter? Seriously? But after more consideration and perusing the rest of the list, Dixon is properly placed. He was a fantastic punter who frankly isn’t known for his punts. That in and of itself is worth something. He’s one of five SU players to get drafted since 2015, which is even more impressive than it sounds since punter can be a taboo position to draft. He’s beloved at SU and will never have to buy a drink at Lucy’s ever again, so 86th is a proper spot for Dixon.

Harrison: Tyus Battle behind MCW, Andy Rautins, Tyler Ennis, Dion Waiters and Michael Gbinije

Let me be frank. Admittedly, having Tyus Battle (75) come in behind Michael Carter-Williams (70), Andy Rautins (68), Tyler Ennis (66), Dion Waiters (57) and Michael Gbinije (33) should be considered a sin. Battle came in as a freshman and immediately made an impact despite a rough year for the program in 2016-2017. The next year, he averaged 19.2 points per game, leading an Orange team in scoring en route to an appearance in the Elite Eight. When it’s all said and done, Battle certainly should go down as one of the best players in Syracuse basketball history – as well as one who turned down potential NBA pastures to stay at school.

You can find the full SU Top 100 list by clicking here.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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