The last time Marcus Sales put a Syracuse uniform on, he had five catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns in the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl.
While it has been nearly 16 months since that game, Sales showed he still has the ability to be SU’s primary deep threat in Saturday’s spring game, where Team Anselmo shut out Team Moore, 9-0. Sales caught a pair of deep balls for 68 yards, including a nifty over-the-shoulder grab for a 38 yard gain.
It was that kind of deep pass that was largely missing from the 2011 team, which lost its last five games and missed the postseason.
“He’s had to do a lot of work,” wide receivers coach Rob Moore said. “When he got here he wasn’t in football shape. It took him a couple of weeks to get his timing back and all of those things you lose when you haven’t played the game in a while.”
Sales was suspended all of last season following an arrest for drug-related charges in July. The charges were dropped in October, clearing the way for Sales to return for his senior season.
The key for Sales now is to rekindle the chemistry he had with quarterback Ryan Nassib. In the last four games of the 2010 season, Sales averaged 93.7 yards on 5.2 receptions a game.
“I’m feeling pretty good with chemistry in the passing game with the receivers,” said Nassib, who went on to specifically mention Sales. “As a unit, our chemistry we’re only going to get better.”
“The biggest thing was getting our chemistry back and getting the timing back down with our routes,” Sales said. “Me coming back from being off a year, just getting back in shape, getting back to the speed of the game was the thing I wanted to focus on.”
Nassib said that Sales’ return brings a whole different dimension to the offense on the field. Moore believes he’s brought some different dimensions to the locker room, as well.
“He’s brought some veteran leadership,” Moore said. “He brings some of those young guys up and watches film with them.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this article with reporting from Syracuse.Wesley Cheng