Syracuse suffered through a gristly season, winners of only one measly game. Nothing went right, especially health. The only bright side to all the losing and injuries is hopefully the long term growth of the roster. The starters that lost time opened the door for so many young players to get their moment.
Into this void steps Duce Chestnut, a true freshman corner from Camden, New Jersey. He was a top-35 corner in his recruiting class and chose Syracuse over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville and Baylor. He was a huge win for Dino Babers’ staff, a 4-star player who also played offense, ram track, and was a dynamic kick returner as well in high school.
247 Sports named the Top 100 true freshman to make an impact nationally this year, and Chestnut was Syracuse’s lone name on the list.
“The Orange are going to be young in the secondary next year… That gives Chestnut, Syracuse’s highest-rated 2021 signee, a chance to vault into the rotation right away. Chestnut is a versatile cornerback who can play as many as four positions in the secondary thanks to his size and tackling ability, which allows him to play corner, nickel and even some safety.” – 247 Sports
A versatile corner? A stop gap on a leaky defense? A man that wants to be known as “The New King of New York?” SU needs all of that. Look away from the horror of last year’s numbers. The Orange gave up 40+ points twice. Five other times they allowed 30+ points. SU gave up less than 20 points only once all season. You better play in the Big 12 if you want to try to win that way.
Here is the 247 scouting report on Chestnut:
“Has frame to play corner or safety. Boundary corner is ideal spot. Instinctual and smart on field. Athletic and changes direction well. Tracks ball and is aggressive in coverage. Good in run support. Has body control. Strong tackler with technique. Plays physical and re-routes receivers with strong jam. Comfortable in press and off-man coverage. Top end speed a question to excel against elite competition. Has to work on bending more at knees in backpedal. Transition from backpedal to driving on ball needs work. Personal-best 6.74 in 55 meters. Must continue to develop hip looseness. Multi-year starter at Power 5 school. NFL free agent.” – Brian Dohn, National Recruiting Analyst
Look at the inexperience in the secondary with Garrett Williams, Chase Atkinson and Duce at corners. There’s Aman Greenwood and Adrian Cole at safety. There’s also Ja’Had Carter. The common theme is youth. Sometimes that can be a positive. You don’t know what you don’t know, as they say. Chestnut’s natural ability and the need for talented players no matter the inexperience is going to lead him to being one of SU’s most intriguing players.