Syracuse Athletic Director John Wildhack just talked at length about the state of Syracuse football and the job security of head coach Dino Babers, and sounded typically non-alarmist in the face of rabid media members and fans. Wildhack maintains – predictably, but also laughably – that Babers is not on any kind of hot seat heading into this Fall.
Make what you will of that, but what’s cut and dry about Babers’ chances for a bowl season this Fall is that success relies on the play of one player in particular: sophomore running back Sean Tucker.
After a promising first-year campaign in 2020, Tucker erupted onto the national scene in 2021 with a Syracuse program record 1,496 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Tucker’s play helped elevate what was hands-down the ACC’s worst offense in 2020, and nearly propelled the Orange all the way into an improbable bowl game. Barring injury in 2022, Tucker is the front and center star of SU football, and the team likely goes only as far as he can take them.
Fortunately, Tucker’s resumé hasn’t been buried beneath his team’s relative lack of success. A few days ago, the Walter Camp Foundation put together its Preseason All-American Teams. Tucker was featured on the Second Team Offense along with Michigan’s Blake Corum. Just before that team was announced, Tucker had already graced Phil Steele’s All ACC First Team unit, and placed on Athlon Sports’ ACC’s First Team. At the NFL draft level, Tucker has clocked in as the No. 8 running back on draft analyst Mel Kiper’s 2023 board.
If publications and fans were paying attention to Tucker prior to 2021, they certainly are now more than ever. Last year, we wondered aloud whether Tucker could build on his ‘20 success, and we got a response from the man himself.
This season, exceeding a record-breaking campaign might be hard to follow up. No matter what Tucker does this season, he has cemented himself in the SU record books and looks poised for a dynamic third season in Orange.