Syracuse Football is one game into its 2021 season and there are plenty of guys that have already impressed. Against Ohio, Sean Tucker rushed for a career high 181 yards, Tommy DeVito looked poised and worthy of the QB1 title, and Duce Chestnut made eight tackles and snagged an interception without allowing a first down.
All of those players are worthy of the attention they are receiving, but one guy is flying under the radar. Syracuse’s newest secret weapon has to be James Williams.
Who is that? Well, he is none other than the next guy in line to carry on Syracuse’s ‘Punter U’ legacy. Over the last few years, SU has produced plenty of pro-level punters like Riley Dixon, Sterling Hofrichter and Nolan Cooney. Now, Williams is the starting punter for the Orange and looks like a seasoned vet after one start, despite his head coach being nervous for him before the game.
“There’s nothing spookier than a freshman [punter] in his first game,” Dino Babers said. “It’s spooky. Those guys are just different. That’s why they call them specialists… We expect big things from James. It’s going to be a little spooky at first, but let’s see if he can get through those growing pains and kick the ball the way we know he can kick the ball.”
Williams didn’t show many growing pains against Ohio. The sophomore was only called upon twice, but both times pinned the Bobcats within the ten yard line.
“He pinned two amazing punts inside the five and one that one of our guys made a major mistake and James bailed him out,” Babers said this week. “He really did a nice job.”
Not only is that impressive, but it’s also extremely important for Syracuse. The Orange are going to be going up against tougher competition as the season goes on, which means more punts and more of an importance of field position.
“This crew that is coming in, Rutgers, will get after him,” Babers said. “They have the ability to pressure that unit and I’m quite sure they will. So, he passed test one and now he has another test two coming up.”
Talking about punting may not be the flashiest or most exciting thing to discuss, but it is an important aspect to the game. If Williams stays this good, Syracuse won’t need to worry as much when they make offensive mistakes and need to send it away.
It’s also just so fascinating how the Orange just continue to bring in great punting recruits and churn out future pros. It makes you think– why Syracuse? Why is Central New York a random punting hot bed? Who knows, but keep it coming.