The Orange will look to improve upon a disappointing 2021 campaign in which they finished with three consecutive losses to end with an underwhelming 5-7 record. But to be fair, they faced stiff competition down the stretch and had the unenviable task of lining up against three ranked opponents in Wake Forest, NC State, and Pittsburgh (all were losses).
But that is in the rearview mirror, so let’s look ahead to what’s in store for the Orange in 2022. Will it be more of the same or does the coaching staff have the recruits to make next season and beyond more competitive? Let’s take a look at what is in the pipeline and the offseason rumors that are flying.
The first order of business was the signing of Florida high school linebacker, Mekhi Mason, who is a three-star recruit from Monsignor Pace High School. Mason spurned Indiana and Georgia Tech for the opportunity to join the Orange.
Dom Foster played quarterback and wide receiver before being discovered at a camp this summer and Syracuse believes the Warren G. Harding High School standout will be well suited to play cornerback. Foster has already made the transition and should be an interesting project this season.
Woodhaven High School will see one of their own step up to the next level and play for Syracuse as Cornell Perry will be roaming the defensive backfield at some point, hopefully, sooner than later.
In addition, the Orange also signed Florida defensive lineman, Belizaire Bassette, a 270-pound prospect out of American Heritage High School while inking another three-star prospect and secondary cover man, Quan Peterson of South Pointe High School in South Carolina.
The offensive line got a boost when Joe Cruz decided to stay in the state as the eighth-ranked high school offensive linemen in NYS after a stellar career at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma. He will be joined by 6-foot-6, 280-pound Chad Schuster, the 93rd rated offensive tackle in the signing cycle by 247Sports Composite.
Osceola High School’s Jeremiah Wilson is another defensive back added to the Orange football program out of Florida and will join defensive end Denis Jaquez who had initially committed to Northwestern. Jaquez is a big find for Syracuse and he will likely be in the mix as a freshman.
The NCAAF odds on Syracuse to win the ACC this year were long, to say the least, but they could be getting shorter for next year as it was recently confirmed that the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, LeQuint Allen, will be running the rock for the Orange in the near future.
Speaking of odds, the College Football Playoff will be getting underway shortly and Alabama is the top choice at +120 to repeat as national champs. Georgia checks in next at +135 followed by Michigan +750, and rounding the top four is Cincinnati +1400.
Babers Returns in ‘22
Dino Babers has been the head coach for six seasons with only one winning campaign in which the Orange went 10-3 including a Camping World Bowl win over West Virginia.
The future of Syracuse football looked bright but that euphoria quickly dispersed after a lackluster 2019 season followed by a disastrous 1-10 record in 2020. This season was the third consecutive year in which Syracuse has failed to get over the .500 mark and Babers is most assuredly on the hot seat.
Athletic Director John Wildhack announced late in November that Baber would be welcomed back to reboot the program, “We’re disappointed with how this season ended. Our work on the 2022 season began yesterday. We will work on our deficiencies aggressively.”
Shortly before the announcement, Baber made it known that he was shaking up his staff and giving pink slips to tight ends coach Reno Ferri, defensive line coach Vince Reynolds, and most notably, offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.
“I want to thank Coach Gilbert, Coach Ferri, and Coach Reynolds for everything they’ve done for Syracuse University and this program,” Babers said. “We wish them nothing but the best.”
But the Orange have two critical pieces in place to potentially take them to a bowl in quarterback Garrett Shrader and running back Sean Tucker. After Syracuse’s season-ending loss to Pittsburgh, Shrader said, “I’m ready to get going, ready to build, there were a lot of times it was tough throughout the year because we see what we can do and we’re just not there yet.
“That was the most frustrating thing to me, we’re trying to figure out how to win games and put it together, but the potential is there, and we’ll come back next year with high heat.”
Optimism always abounds in the offseason but whether Baber is the right man to turn the ship around is debatable. We will have to wait and see if Syracuse can once become a threat in the ACC.