As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be tackling the biggest burning questions on the 2019 Syracuse football team. Today’s burning question: Who will start on Syracuse’s offensive line?
One of the biggest concerns for Syracuse’s offense heading into the offseason was its offensive line.
Syracuse lost three starters in the offseason—guard Cody Conway, and tackles Koda Martin and Aaron Roberts—leaving only returning starters Airon Servais (a redshirt junior who started at center last year) and Evan Adams (a redshirt senior and three-year starter at right guard).
In an ideal world, Servais would move to tackle and Sam Heckel would slide into the starting center spot. But Heckel missed a portion of preseason camp with an unspecified injury, and only returned to practice this week and began working second team reps at center.
Adams has been moved to left guard for preseason camp, but he will be a starter either way.
The remaining two spots seem slotted for tackle Ryan Alexander, a graduate transfer from South Alabama, and Dakota Davis, who was listed atop the depth chart as the team’s left guard in spring practice and currently has been taking first-team reps at right guard during preseason camp.
The coaching staff has also liked what they’ve seen from JUCO transfer Darius Tisdale, who came into preseason camp as the No. 2 left tackle and has also seen second-team reps at right tackle.
Redshirt senior Andrejas Duerig was listed as the team’s backup center during spring practice and also has experienced at guard. But he’s been out with an undisclosed injury during preseason practice.
There are also some underclassmen who have topped the depth chart because of injuries, or are rising quickly on the preseason depth chart.
Prior to the arrival of Alexander, redshirt freshman Carlos Vetterello started spring practice as the team’s starting left tackle and has also practiced as a reserve center. He appeared in two games in 2018, and figures to appear in more games this year.
When Alexander finally arrived on campus in July, he still wasn’t listed as the team’s starting right tackle. Instead, true freshman Anthony Red was slotted as the starter after he enrolled in January.
Another youngster to keep an eye out for is Qadir White, a former four-star recruit out of the Bronx. White has been taking second-team reps in preseason camp at guard.
“It’s almost shock treatment,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said of his young offensive linemen. “Our defense is really, really good right now. So, every time they go in, they’re like running around with their heads cut off. But they’re going to get there. When you practice against really, really good people, you either get better or [you’re] gone. And they’re still here.”