In a random turn of events, Texas offensive line transfer Willie Tyler announced his decommitment from Syracuse last week. Tyler, who is listed at 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, has plenty of time left in his eligibility and was most likely going to earn his way into the starting lineup if not this year, then next. Instead of waiting it out, Tyler bounced and left a hole for the Syracuse coaches to fill.
The Orange did bring in five offensive line recruits in the incoming freshman class and JUCO transfer Jakob Bradford, but SU could still be in the market for an O-line transfer. So, let’s play the hypothetical game and throw some names out there that could be transfer portal targets to replace Tyler for Syracuse.
Brandon Cunningham – Mississippi State
Cunningham is an athletic, versatile player that can do many things. The lineman just finished his redshirt freshman season at Mississippi State, meaning he still has four years of eligibility left due to COVID.
He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and played in nine games last season. Cunningham saw time as both a tackle and guard, proving that he could fill multiple roles for Syracuse if needed. He also took a couple snaps on the defensive line in 2020, proving his athletic ability.
Cunningham was a four-star recruit out of high school and mostly saw offers from southern schools like Miami, Florida, Florida State, Arkansas, and others.
Trent Pullen – Oklahoma State
Pullen is a youthful player that could be a cornerstone of the offensive line for years to come. He just finished his freshman year at Oklahoma State, where he didn’t play in any games. Pullen still has a full four years of eligibility left.
Since Pullen didn’t play at OSU last year, there is no collegiate tape on him, however he’s fast and has good hands on the outside. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, which is fairly similar size to SU’s Carlos Vettorello.
Pullen has the talent, being a three-star recruit with a plethora of Power-Five offers. He would just be a project, needing to learn and grow a little more. He may not be as ready to play right now as Cunningham, but after a year or two as a reserve, he could be a consistent starter.
Lamarius Benson – Central Florida
Benson is the real deal. He just needs a new home. The Georgia-native played one season at Central Florida where he saw action in nine games. He opted out of the 2020 season, so he still has three years of eligibility left.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 321 pounds, Benson is as big as they come. He is a large body on the inside and can protect the quarterback. He was a three-star recruit out of high school, garnering scholarship offers from South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and others.
Benson has the talent of a play-now guy. If Syracuse needed him right away, he could do it. If the Orange are okay with their current starters for this year, then Benson would most likely be an automatic starter in 2022.
Nick Lewis – Kentucky
The name of the game for Lewis is size. The offensive tackle is 6-foot-9 (!!), 320 pounds. You can’t teach that kind of size. He spent three seasons at Kentucky, playing in two and redshirting one. So, Lewis still has three years of eligibility left.
The Florida-native spent most of his time on special teams with the Wildcats. He doesn’t have too much offensive experience in college, but put him in front of the right coaches and he could be a serious problem solely based on his size.