When Garrett Shrader announced he was transferring to Syracuse, Orange fans rejoiced. SU struggled in the quarterback department last season due to an injury-prone Tommy DeVito and a wishy-washy Rex Culpepper. The future of the position didn’t look great until the Mississippi State product came up north.
High expectations around Shrader were met with conflicting reports in the summer. Dino Babers and company continued to push the narrative that there was a quarterback battle, but Tommy DeVito was going to be QB1. That only continued when DeVito started the first four games of the season and, honestly, looked like the better option.
It wasn’t until the Liberty game that the script was flipped and Shradder took over the starting role. The new QB1 played well, making DeVito’s standing on the team questionable. In an interview following the switch, the New Jersey native said he was going to stay at SU and focus on being a good teammate. However, on Sunday DeVito announced he was entering the transfer portal.
DeVito is now the third prominent Syracuse player to leave the program in the middle of the season. Wide receiver Taj Harris and running back Jarveon Howard also are in the portal. So, the question has to be asked – are these departures a sign of the times or a sign of a problematic program?
The NCAA loosened its rules on transferring earlier this year, allowing student athletes to switch schools while not having to sit out a season, which they previously had to do. This new stance has led to an influx of transfers, most notably in college basketball.
So, yes, the fact that Syracuse has lost three players to the transfer portal is a sign of the times. Babers understands that, too, citing it while speaking to the media on Monday.
“This [transfer portal] is new ground for me as a head coach,” Babers said. “All those young men are the captain of their own ship and they get to make their own decisions. Sometimes they need to do what’s best for them and their situation. We’re going to respect that. We’re going to understand that.”
However, not many programs around the country are losing as many players, especially prominent players, as Syracuse in the middle of the season. So, to that point, the departures are also a reflection of the program.
All three SU transfers make sense when you look at them on paper. Howard was shoved down a running back depth chart that is etched in stone at this point. Harris is an uber talented wide receiver in a run heavy offense. DeVito wants to be a starter and knows he won’t be here.
When you take a deeper dive, though, the decisions the program made have led to those excuses. The coaches went with Shrader, which ousted DeVito and put Harris in a crappy situation. Then, the locker room wasn’t strong enough to keep them around. In many cases, if someone loses their job, they stick around and fight for it back. They only do that, however, if they like where they are. So, it may be okay to say that Baber’s “Ohana” isn’t as strong as advertised.