Syracuse football has had a rough past couple of seasons, but the youth and new faces within the program has kept things interesting and exciting even when the final results have been disappointing.
For example, 2019’s emergence of wideout transfer Trishton Jackson was electrifying, and freshman Sean Tucker’s takeover of the running back spot in 2020 matched Garrett Williams’ impressive campaign on the defensive side. The 2021 season may likely follow the same pattern. Even if Syracuse finishes with a losing season again, there are reasons for intrigue among the team’s young players.
Who are some new faces to keep an eye on this year?
On the offensive side, the choice seems pretty clear to go with Garrett Shrader, who transferred in from Mississippi State this offseason to compete for the starting quarterback role. Head coach Dino Babers has yet to commit to a starter at quarterback, although returning starter Tommy DeVito will likely at least begin the year under center after missing all but four games last season with a leg injury. Shrader’s dual-threat talent is intriguing, presenting a contrast to the pocket-passing DeVito and shoring up a position that has weak overall depth. If DeVito is ineffective or injured again, the onus then falls on Babers to make a quick decision, and it seems plausible that Shrader likely gets a chance to show the talent he flashed down in Starksville in 2019 (1,170 yards and 8 TD passing, 587 yards 6 TD rushing).
Defensively, incoming freshman Duce Chestnut has as good a chance as anyone to turn some heads. The New Jerseyan is a four-star recruit in the class of 2021 and a massive net for Babers and his staff. Chestnut’s versatility in high school is a plus, with size to play corner or safety as well as the ability to return kicks, making him a major boon to Syracuse’s 3-3-5 defense. A not-exactly-bold prediction for this season is that by the end of the year, Chestnut is in a starting role and roaming somewhere on SU’s defense, likely at corner opposite redshirt-freshman Garrett Williams. If Chestnut’s game lives up to the hype and produces a season like Andre Cisco’s 2018 freshman campaign, SU fans might not miss the latter quite as much.