Syracuse football made a splash in the transfer portal earlier this week. The Orange scooped up Michigan transfer Dan Villari from the portal. The Long Island native spent two seasons in Ann Arbor before deciding to seek a new destination. The dual-threat quarterback was the third-string signal caller for the Wolverines.
As soon as Villari entered the transfer portal SU fans should have been confident he would end up in the Salt City. The former first-team NY all-stater had just seven offers out of high school with the “block M” being the only power five offer. Villari didn’t log a whole lot of snaps in his time wearing the Winged Helmet so it was safe to assume he could look to come home and play for the best team in the Empire State.
The rising junior played behind incumbent starter Cade McNamara and five-star rising sophomore J.J. McCarthy. Villari played in four games last season, mostly in garbage time towards the end of games. The former three-star recruit was 1/3 for 26 yards passing with 35 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Villari’s stats from his time at U of M won’t pop and that’s understandable because he was the third man on the depth chart. On the other hand though, Michigan didn’t really have another quarterback like him. The Massapequa, N.Y. native stands 6’4″, 235 pounds and is a battering ram.
Jim Harbaugh, the head man in Ann Arbor, compared Villari to Taysom Hill and planned to use him in a similar role in the 2021 season. That included lining up in the slot, playing running back, and of course taking snaps under center. Now as a Wolverine fan myself, I don’t recall the Plainedge high school product lining up as a tailback or wide receiver but I can vouch for his play at quarterback. However, if you watch his high school tape you may see the resemblance to the Saints swiss-army knife.
Michigan’s offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis, ran a lot of QB Power, QB Counter, and RPO’s with Villari commanding the offense. Now the athletic playmaker did benefit from running behind the best offensive line in the country but he looked comfortable in his role. Here are a few examples of what UM did with Villari in the gun.
So that’s all about Villari’s time up in the mitten. Perhaps some of you saw some similarities between his game and Hill’s. Well you know who coached the New Orleans playmaker in college? Oh that would be Robert Anae, Syracuse’s new offensive coordinator.
Under Anae’s watch Hill accounted for 55 total touchdowns, over 2,200 rushing yards, and over 4,600 yards through the air. A bulk of that production came in 2013 and Anae left for Virginia ahead of the 2016 season. However, SU’s new offensive mastermind has a history developing quarterbacks similar to the playing style of Villari.
Now Syracuse has Garrett Shrader who has a year under his belt with Dino Babers’ team. Obviously with a new offensive philosophy the starting signal caller spot may be up for grabs. With Villari in the fold, Shrader might get pushed to improve exponentially in the offseason. Don’t forget that JaCobian Morgan is also on the roster and he’s started in the past and is also a dual-threat talent. The point is that this quarterback room is stocked with potential and more importantly, players that fit the system.