There aren’t many certainties when it comes to a largely overhauled Syracuse roster heading into the fall, but one of them is that Oronde Gadsden is the number one pass catching option. Gadsden had nearly 1,000 yards last year, nobody else even reached 500.
Gadsden will surely be the top option again, and, if spring ball is any indication, he will do most of his work out of the slot like he did last year. However, if Syracuse wants to take the next step offensively, it needs more weapons to emerge, both to take the defense’s attention away from Gadsden and to be able to make plays when he’s doubled and the other receivers are on an island.
It feels like Gadsden became what many thought Alford would be last year. After making splash plays in 2021, Alford continued to be what he had been to start his career: a big-bodied receiver who’s effective at boxing out smaller corners on vertical routes, but doesn’t do much else.
He doesn’t have high end speed, but his 6’6 frame allows him to treat a contested catch like a rebound, and he’s effective at it. The next step for him is increasing his route tree. During the spring, he said that was his biggest focus this offseason, wanting to be more well-rounded. He’ll get plenty of opportunities on the outside to show the strides he’s made.
Speaking of big bodied receivers, Jones is certainly another. He’s 6’4, to go along with the 6’6 Alford and 6’5 Gadsden. He went from being a special teamer to a starting receiver at the beginning of last year. Whenever Dino Babers was asked who he was most excited about heading into last season, Jones was always a name that was mentioned.
A shoulder injury in week three meant SU fans saw little of Jones. He’s still very much a mystery, but the size is there. He was with the first team for all of spring ball, creating a three receiver lineup that is all over 6’4.
Adams is the X factor in this group. There’s plenty of size, but what it lacks is straight line speed. Adams ran track at FAU before transferring to Syracuse. Adams caught just six passes last year, but for 180 yards. He averaged 30 yards per reception.
Syracuse needs a speedy receiver on the outside who is at least a threat to beat a secondary over the top. That would open up the middle of the field for the bigger bodied receivers, especially Oronde Gadsden.