Ever since the departure of Ryan Nassib and Eric Dungey, the question surrounding SU football revolves around the QB position .
The answer just got a lot harder with the additions of Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader and freshman Justin Lamson. Along with these two, the quarterback room still consists of Devito, and sophomores JaCobian Morgan and Dillon Markiewicz. Morgan played in the final three games of last season, while Markiewicz has only seen a couple brief fourth quarter stints.
But all five deserve consideration because no one player is levels above the next.
“I think this competition is healthy… and what everybody embraces,” said Dino Babers. “I think the competition will continue through the summer and we’ll see what happens in the fall.”
Even if the final decision is made September 3, the day before SU’s season opener, it’s never a bad idea to speculate the name Babers will call.
As much as the story of a young stud building the program from the ground up is inspirational and movie-esque, it won’t happen at Syracuse for two reasons. Lamson isn’t ready and he’s the youngest of five in a quarterback room.
Lamson is in a developmental situation just as Markiewicz and Morgan were last season. The top 20 dual-threat QB out of high school, according to 247 Sports, will use this season to prove his worth for years to come. He’s most likely QB5 on the depth chart.
The good news is Babers and the rest of the coaching staff are already singing his praises after the spring.
“(Justin) is going to be real good, we are really excited about him,” Babers said.
Dillon Markiewicz/JaCobian Morgan
These two are paired together because of their sophomore standing and the fact that both sit on the QB3 pedestal behind Shrader and Devito.
Morgan is more experienced but gets flustered easily in the pocket. That being said, his skill set is vast and time/experience will only improve his game. Morgan’s frame works in his favor at 6’4” and 203 pounds. If he finds a stride and gains pocket awareness when the space around him is collapsing, this could be SU’s QB of the future.
Markiewicz is more unknown, but an immense talent with a lot of potential. His only issue is finding time on the field. But Markiewicz’s head man complimented some throws the 6’5” QB made during the spring, providing some validity to his case as the lone QB3.
The Mississippi State transfer shakes up the quarterback equation tenfold. A converted quarterback to wide receiver, and now back to QB, Shrader brings with him a stout 2019 and a lot of dual-threat potential.
A couple years ago, Shrader threw for over 1100 yards and eight touchdowns. But it’s his ability on the ground that sets him apart from the rest. Babers described Shrader’s legs as “a plus”, but his production warrants further recognition.
The 6’4” North Carolina native ran for over five yards per carry in 2019. That included over 100 carries on 11 scrambles a game. He can navigate around a busy pocket and most importantly, deal with high-octane pressure. Whether it’s his accuracy or unpredictability, Shrader can take this team to new heights if he’s able to adapt to its system.
The ceiling for Shrader is Eric Dungey-like production, while the floor is a player whose intangibles don’t fit, resulting in a wrong fit scenario.
News flash: Devito will be the starter. Fizz Nation, do you agree?
The reason it can be so confidently said is what Syracuse fans have seen from Babers in the last couple years. He goes with what he knows. Devito is the success story that SU’s head coach wanted, but just hasn’t worked out thus far.
In 2019, the 6’2” junior threw 19 touchdowns and only five interceptions, while completing passes over a 60% clip. Those stats don’t read a bad season, but the eye test would point toward that. He didn’t seem like a leader, and instead, played average football all year. That followed in 2020, until an injury ended his season.
No matter his recent blemishes, Devito knows SU’s scheme best. Babers trusts him, at least more than the other QBs, with the keys to the offense. That’s why Devito will start. Will he stay in that slot? Only time will tell. But when the fall rolls around, he has a golden opportunity to show off in the Orange’s four non-conference games to open the year.