SU Football returned to spring practice earlier this week for the first time in over two calendar years. Every team across the country lost the 15 allotted training sessions last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result teams like Navy get blown out by BYU early on because they “weren’t hitting in practice.”
For Syracuse, the lack of spring ball played a major role in why the Orange went 1-10. Last season marked just the second time since 1948 that SU won just one game throughout a season. You can blame the shortcomings on Tommy DeVito, the opt-outs, or Coach Babers, but here’s the reality. How can you expect a team coming off a 5-7 season that lost a lot of talent to play potent football when there was nearly no time for preparation? Keep in mind Syracuse was replacing both its offensive and defensive coordinators.
Whatever the case, we should all be glad that spring football is a go this year, and SU can at least have some time for installation, evaluations, and decisions. With that said, we’re going to play the role of Coach Babers today at Orange Fizz and pick our projected two-deep. Today we begin with how the offense. *Please note the eligibility reflects current status as the school year is still in session*
- Tommy Devito | 6-2, 221 / R-Jr.
- Jacobian Morgan | 6-4, 203 / Fr.
Before you jump into the comment section to express your disagreement, remember this is a spring depth chart. DeVito has started the most games behind center in the SU quarterback room. Yes, Garrett Shrader brought some hype with him to the Salt City, but spring just started. This is the first time the coaches are getting a glimpse of what he can do and what he can be. If the Mississippi State transfer wins this job, or cracks the two-deep it will be in August, not April. The same applies for Morgan. The freshman started a pair of games last season vs Boston College and Louisville and looked serviceable at times. For that reason, he gets the nod as the backup.
- Sean Tucker | 5-10, 202 / Fr.
2a. Abdul Adams | 5-11, 205 / 5th
2b. Jarveon Howard | 5-10, 214 / Jr.
Coach Babers said during his press conference following Tuesday’s opening practice that Adams and Howard are starting back at the bottom of the depth chart. The RB duo opted out of the 2020 season, but are back on the roster ahead of the Fall. This is how it should all shake out assuming the two veterans stayed in good physical shape and transition seamlessly. It helps their cause that both Markenzy Pierre and Jawhar Jordan entered the transfer portal following last season. If this is how the two-deep looks at the end of April, this backfield figures to be one of the best in the ACC. Tucker gets the nod as the starter after a tremendous freshman season that saw him run for 626 yards and 4 touchdowns.
- Chris Elmore | 6-0, 288 / Sr.
- Luke Benson | 6-3, 233 / So.
Elmore announced earlier this year his intentions to return to the Hill and utilize his extra year of eligibility. “Rhino” played the first half of last season as an emergency piece on the offensive line and actually graded out pretty well. But, the Chicago native’s future is as a bruising blocker out of the backfield opening up big holes for SU’s talented running backs. Luke Benson made some appearances in the backfield as well, especially when Elmore was in the trenches. Babers will deploy him in the shotgun as a wing in the backfield where he can block, as well as catch passes out of the backfield. As a tight end, Benson is a better receiving option than Elmore and can keep defenses guessing.
- Luke Benson | 6-3, 233 / So.
- Stephen Mahar Jr. ? | 6-5, 225 / Fr.
This is now Benson’s job after Aaron Hackett transferred to TCU earlier this year. The Pennsylvania native has yet to play a major role in the offense, but with Hackett gone, this could be his chance. Benson has hauled in 14 receptions for 239 yards, and 5 scores. Fifty-three of his 63 yards in 2020 came off one play against Duke. As for Benson’s backup… who knows? Mahar is the only other tight end with some experience under his belt, and that’s not saying much because he hasn’t even logged a snap at SU. That’s not to say he doesn’t have potential. Mahar was a top five recruit in the state of New York coming out of Aquinas Institute. He has good size and should have a role this season.
X: Taj Harris | 6-2, 164 / Jr.
Z: Anthony Queeley | 6-2, 193 / R-So.
H: Courtney Jackson | 5-10, 173 / R-Fr.
Wideout is one of the positions that SU fans shouldn’t really be concerned about heading into the fall. The Orange return several familiar faces including two starters in Harris and Queeley. Jackson is seasoned as well, the projected slot receiver played in all eleven games for the ‘Cuse and made ten catches for 69 yards. Expect the Pennsylvania native to take over for Nykeim Johnson (transferred to Kent State) as the H.
- Matthew Bergeron | 6-4, 312 / So.
- Anthony Red | 6-5, 297 / R-Fr.
Bergeron and Servais swapped spots last season and the offense improved as a result. Expect that to remain the same, Bergeron has had two solid seasons in the trenches for SU. Red was listed as the backup behind Servais in this position last year. He redshirted in 2019, while also playing three snaps against Duke.
- Dakota Davis | 6-5, 327 / R-Jr.
- Chris Bleich | 6-6, 332 / R-So.
Davis missed SU’s first six games with an injury so Chris Elmore had to play hero and take over at the LG spot for over half of 2020. Once Davis came back, the line was potent again. SU hopes to have Davis healthy heading into the fall. Bleich is listed as the backup at both guard positions because he’s good enough to start now. If SU has any issues with injury or poor performance, the former SEC lineman can slide in.
- Carlos Vettorello | 6-4, 289 / R-So.
- Josh Koscoil | 6-1, 308 / R-Fr.
This is Vettorello’s spot to lose. The Michigan native has started at center in 14 contests and was on Rimington Award watch list. The Rimington Trophy is given to the nation’s top offensive center. Koscoil was the backup center heading into spring last season so he gets the nod here. Honestly the backup spot behind Big Los’ is completely up for grabs and doesn’t matter unless Vettorello has issues with injury.
- Darius Tisdale | 6-4, 342 / R-Jr.
- Chris Bleich | 6-6, 332 / R-So.
Tisdale is penciled in at RG 1 strictly because he started 10 games last season. But, the same applies to both Tisdale and Davis. Having starting experience doesn’t mean anything if they were bad starts. Let’s not forget this was one of the worst lines in all of college football in 2019, and they weren’t that much better in 2020. That being said, the former Lackawanna C.C. lineman holds onto his spot at the end of spring, but will need to play at a high level in fall camp to hold off Chris Bleich.
- Aaron Servais | 6-6, 309 / R-Sr.
- Jakob Bradford | 6-5, 298 / So.
As previously mentioned, Servais slides over from left to right. He should get some NFL looks once he’s done playing in CNY because of his experience and versatility at nearly every spot on the OL. He’s very reminiscent of former Michigan Wolverines and current NFL lineman Mason Cole. Servais has also started 48 consecutive contests. As for his backup, this is another wide-open competition which is a good thing. It’s nice to have two starters solidified and then have the reserves duke it out for spot number 2. I’m going with a wild card here and giving it to former Iowa C.C. right tackle Jakob Bradford. He’s a monstrous human being and has very impressive film. This is purely an educated guess, but this spot is anybody’s that impresses in August.