Under 20 days until Syracuse takes the field against Louisville in the Loud House! As the season gets closer and closer it might be a fun exercise to rank which units are the best on the 2022 rendition of the SU football team. This may be pretty difficult because the “O” has made some major strides in the last two years.
5. Tight Ends
This position group has been extinct for the past few years. Syracuse refused to utilize its tight ends in the passing game and essentially turned all of them into h-backs and wing blockers. This approach ran both Aaron Hackett and Luke Benson out of the program.
Heading into 2022, it seems like the tight ends will have more of an expanded role. Robert Anae has brought his “air raid” system to the Hill which predicates the aerial attack. The Orange could greatly benefit from this approach because they have a tight end that can really get after it in the passing game.
Steven Mahar has only made an impact in the special teams to this point. However, once upon a time Mahar was a top four recruit in New York and the 26th ranked tight end recruit. Perhaps the Orange will finally use the assets they have to the fullest extent and spread the ball around. On top of Mahar, there’s Max Mang who caught a pass last year but really has been used as an h-back.
4. Wide Receivers
Another position group that has really disappointed as of late but also hasn’t been utilized correctly. This department is full of spectacular athletes of all different shapes and sizes. However, this unit is just full of names, there isn’t a sure fire stud. The jury is still out on the pass catchers, perhaps the offensive philosophy switch can make a difference.
One could argue that the quarterback room was one of the worst units on the team as recent as two years ago. However, Dino Babers and company did a stellar job attacking the transfer portal and recruiting trail to accumulate talent. The Orange now have a solidified starter in Garrett Shrader, who is at the very least serviceable. Additionally, SU reeled in a former four-star in Carlos Del-Rio Wilson. The Florida transfer and young stud Justin Lamson present intriguing pieces for the future.
2. Offensive Line + Chris Elmore
Think back to 2020. The offensive line was awful! SU was one of the most sacked teams in the nation and even had to force a fullback to develop into a guard (shoutout Rhino). Two years later, Syracuse has legitimate all-conference talent and solid depth.
SU brings back All-ACC left tackle Matthew Bergeron and four other players with starting experience alongside. Behind the starting five is a solid group. Josh Ilaoa earned some valuable reps last year along with Darius Tisdale. Additionally, there’s a potential star in former four-star recruit Enrique Cruz. Toss in the fact that Chris Elmore is clearing holes at fullback, this is a very good unit.
1. Running Backs
Should we call it the running back room or the Sean Tucker room? Obviously the star tailback in the best player on this team but there’s some other potential stars in the backfield too. Think about Juwaun Price who sparked in the SU spring game earlier this spring. The New Mexico State transfer has a comparable playing style to Tucker and will be a great backup.
Furthermore, SU brought in New Jersey’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Lequint Allen. The scat-back scored a long touchdown in the spring game and brings a change of pace element to the backfield. Expect the true freshman to carve out a role for himself as an explosive freshman.