Item: On day one of the annual ACC football media event amidst all the championship golf courses a lover of the sport could ask for, many neatly carved out of the tens of thousands of acres of pine forest in this state’s Sandhills region, the Syracuse players on hand are getting ready for another building block season for a program looking to return to a bowl game.
Pinehurst, N.C. – Terrel Hunt is optimistic, and why not?
After missing most of his second-to-last season of eligibility following 2014’s fifth game with a broken leg, and subsequently watching three other fellow quarterbacks take their turn at unsuccessfully figuring out how to score points against ACC opponents in a 3-9 injury-plagued finish, Hunt, a fifth year senior, realizes that after an off season of getting in the best shape of his life, losing weight and gaining speed, there’s nowhere to go but forward as he prepares to carry the Orange offensive load in his Syracuse finale.
“(It’s all about) winning, the right mind set,” Hunt said confidently as he fulfilled his media obligations Monday afternoon representing not only the meagerly potent Orange offense, but a program that’s still finding its way against a step up in weekly ACC competition.
“Literally, when you win you get better recruits. When you win you get more money (revenue), you get more publicity. Losers don’t get anything. A lot of times (last year) we would shoot ourselves in the foot. We’d be on the 20 (yard line) and get a 15 yard penalty. Now it’s third and 15. We don’t need that, I’d rather get touchdowns.”
Besides the arduous and repetitive workouts to not only strengthen his leg but add a burst of speed in and around the pocket he hopes to stay within a little bit more this season, Hunt has also gotten the Orange up to speed with the latest in virtual reality, in-game simulation software embedded into a helmet, allowing him to replicate scenarios he might come upon in various live game sequences.
“In training, the helmet that you put on has a video game (like Madden) built in with all of our plays and defenses. Wherever we move (on the field) the motion sensors kick in, so wherever you want to throw the ball you throw it. It’s really slick.”
Hunt’s comrade on hand at Pinehurst representing the SU defense, fast rising sophomore middle linebacker Zaire Franklin, has been impressed competing against his teammate in both official spring practices and recently during unofficial summer workouts, knowing that relatively new fulltime coordinator Tim Lester has barely unveiled the playbook.
“Terrel’s our staple, he’s our rock,” Franklin said when asked about what he foresees from the other side of the ball and point production this year. “With Terrel back and the other guys and different pieces we have coming back, the offensive line, a scheme that (now) fits our personnel much better, I expect a good year from them.”
Most in Orange Nation would expect a “good year” to result in the ‘Cuse being one of 80 teams to play in a postseason game somewhere, something that Hunt has had on his mind ever since leading SU to a comeback Texas Bowl win over Minnesota in 2013, and missing the final seven games a year ago.
“I want to go out with a bang in a bowl game.”