The calendar is about to flick over to June, and Syracuse football recruiting is about to take center stage for a brief period of time. Pre-AAU season Class of ‘23 commitments will fill the headlines and then inevitably fade away until late August, but there’s one recent addition to SU’s football squad whose name may linger around all summer long – quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson.
Since committing to transfer to SU on May 24th, Del Rio-Wilson has only piqued the interest of a quarterback-hungry Orange nation. The former Florida Gator was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school, made a favorable impression in Gainesville, and has about a century’s worth of eligibility left. If he sticks around on The Hill, he’ll eventually outlast the man who sits ahead of him on the depth chart: Garrett Shrader.
Syracuse’s quarterback gig in 2022 is squarely Shrader’s to lose. The junior threw for 17 touchdowns in eight starts last year and ran for another 20, nearly piloting a revitalized SU offense all the way into a bowl game. If Shrader stays healthy, he’s all but certain to start all 12 games this year as well, with limited competition and almost total inexperience behind him. To be clear, there is not and will not be a quarterback controversy.
That being said, Shrader’s 2021 season was not perfect. His passing was marred by bouts of brutal inefficiency – take his percentages against Liberty, Clemson, and NC State, for example – and he proved to be a more effective runner than passer. Granted, former offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s wizardry made it look as though his players were all wearing leg cuffs, but Shrader demonstrated clear limitations everyone should now be aware of.
Head coach Dino Babers surely knows this about as well as he knows that his job may hinge on a bowl berth this Fall. Saddled with a 29-43 record in six seasons with the Orange, Babers doesn’t have a lot of runway left to get things together. Babers’ decision to make Shrader the starting quarterback four games into last season over Tommy DeVito may have saved his seat on the sideline for another year. If Shrader plays poorly off the jump and the Orange blow some of their must-have early games ahead of a daunting late season schedule, Babers may feel all but forced to try other options at quarterback for brief spells, and Del Rio-Wilson is likely waiting towards the very front in line. Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented in the slightest – recall that heading into last Fall, Shrader himself lacked experience, was seen as a ‘wild-card’ option, and appeared briefly in the team’s first three games before grabbing ahold of the starting job for good.
We spoke about whether or not Del Rio-Wilson would shake up Syracuse’s quarterback room this season on last week’s Fizz Five, and I agreed that he wouldn’t. After thinking about it a little more, I still believe that he won’t – but he may get chances out of desperation if SU begins falling behind. Del Rio-Wilson’s addition is a net positive for the program, and we’ll see more of him in the future. Just don’t be surprised if Babers chooses to take drastic action and shake things up under center on occasion sooner than we expect.