Syracuse football lost three defensive starters to the transfer portal this offseason. In games like this weekend’s 40-7 blowout loss to North Carolina, the loss of talent on defense is evident. Let’s take a look at how the transfers are doing, and figure out where they’d fit in the Orange’s defense if they had stayed in the Salt City.
Duce Chestnut – Louisiana State University
Duce Chestnut was an All-ACC cornerback in both of his years at Syracuse. This offseason, he took the opportunity to play in the SEC, at LSU. This is understandable. Getting to play in the best conference in the nation is an opportunity that’s hard to turn down.
Playing for the Tigers started out great. Chestnut began the season as a first-teamer and grabbed an interception in the opening game against Florida State. After that, Chestnut didn’t play for two games. Then, he saw the field against Arkansas. But since then, Chestnut hasn’t been with the team, according to LSU head coach Brian Kelly.
There hasn’t been any more information on Chestnut’s status. An unannounced absence isn’t usually a good sign. Hopefully, he is doing okay and can rejoin the Tigers.
Now, if Chestnut was still on the Orange, he would absolutely be a starting cornerback. He’d push either Isaiah Johnson or Jeremiah WIlson to the bench, preferably Wilson.
Having Chestnut’s talent in new defensive coordinator Rocky Long’s system would have been great for Syracuse, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Ja’Had Carter – Ohio State University
Another former All-ACC member of SU’s secondary, Ja’Had Carter was a key loss at the safety position for Syracuse. He was a great tackler at the third level and anticipated passes very well.
Similar to Chestnut’s departure to LSU, it makes sense for Carter to leave for a program as historic as OSU’s. However, he gave up being a star of the Orange to be a backup for the Buckeyes. The only stats Carter has tallied this year were in a blowout win over Youngstown State.
If Carter had stayed at SU, he would have been a key starting defender. The safety would have made a huge difference in slowing down Clemson’s offense last week. Staying together would have been mutually beneficial for Carter and Syracuse.
Jatius Geer – University of South Carolina
Jatius Geer was a key starting defensive lineman for Syracuse as just a redshirt freshman in 2022. He picked up 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks. But after the season, he left for South Carolina.
This is yet another decision that makes sense given the other school’s reputation, but hasn’t panned out quite yet. Geer has made just two appearances as a Gamecock, recording one tackle.
Geer would have been particularly valuable to the Orange this year. With starter Denis Jaquez Jr. out for the season after getting injured against UNC, Geer would be that much more important to SU.
While it made sense for all three of these Syracuse football players to transfer away, it’s hard not to imagine what could have been. Syracuse would be better off with these three players on its roster, and these three players might have benefitted short-term from staying with the Orange. But who’s to say what happens down the road?