Each week over the summer, The Juice Online is going to highlight individual players on the 2016 Syracuse football team. This week, we’re profiling running back Dontae Strickland.
Early in spring practice, running back Jordan Fredericks was taking reps with the first team.
After a minor injury sidelined him for a few days, Dontae Strickland started working with the top unit.
He’s never let go of the position since then, rushing for 84 yards on 12 carries during SU’s spring game.
“He’s a very smart individual,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said after the spring game. “I think he’s going to be a heck of a football player for us in some combination with somebody else back there.”
It’s been a spring of adjustments for Strickland, who played in Tim Lester’s hybrid position in his first year.
Last year, Strickland could like up as a receiver, a running back, and have blocking responsibilities. Strickland finished with 21 rushes for 81 yards for one touchdown, and caught nine passes for 137 yards and two scores.
“Now it’s just one spot,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll be in the slot, but it’s not that bad.”
Strickland has also made the adjustment of playing in Syracuse’s new speedy offense.
“We’ll be at 150 miles per hour (in the fall),” Strickland said. “Right now, (the coaches) said we’re 50, 25 miles per hour. When they said that to me, I was shocked.”
Inside slant: Babers has been hesitant to heap praise upon any of his players so far, so when he gushed about Strickland, it was noticeable. The key to Babers quote was who else would line up with Strickland in the backfield, not if Strickland would be there at all. Translating coach speak: Strickland will be a vital part of Babers’ new offense.
- Birthdate: March 1997
- Hometown: Dayton, N.J.
- High School: South Brunswick
- Position: Running Back
- Class: Sophomore
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 196 lbs
Career highlights: As a true freshman, Strickland played in all 12 games. He rushed 21 times for 81 yards (3.9 avg.) and one touchdown, and caught nine passes for 137 yards and two scores.
Jim Stechschulte and Nick Salamone contributed to this report.
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