Item: Syracuse safety Andre Cisco and kicker Andre Szmyt have arguably had the two most productive initial seasons of any Syracuse football players in the 2000s. Both joined kickers Ross Krautman (2010) and Sterling Hofrichter (2016) as the only SU first-year players to be named first-team freshman All-Americans this century in 2018, and both followed that up with all-conference caliber performances last season. Now the 2020 preseason accolades are starting to be released, and according to Lindy’s Sports, Cisco is the nation’s top returning safety.
They burst onto the Syracuse football scene out of nowhere in 2018, and against staggering odds both Cisco and Szmyt were named not only first-team freshman All-Americans that bowl-winning season, but All-Americans period.
Szmyt nabbed the Lou Groza award as the nation’s top kicker, and Cisco became only the second true freshman (George Shaw-Oregon 1951) to lead the country in interceptions (seven picks tied with Boston College’s Hamp Cheevers).
Despite missing three games last season due to injury, Cisco still led the ACC with five interceptions (seventh nationally), and he enters the 2020 season as the FBS active leader in interceptions with 12, and is second statistically is passes defended per game (1.27).
Besides the Lindy’s Sports recognition in which Cisco was listed with safeties Richard LeCounte of Georgia and Oregon’s Jevon Holland, the junior from Long Island was also named a first-team pre-season All-American by Street & Smith’s. Upon his return to campus with his teammates Cisco told cuse.com sports that he was looking forward to getting away from the monotony of pandemic-forced solo workouts.
“My position group in particular, we were doing workouts on Zoom (video teleconferencing) and different type of activities like that,” explained Cisco. “It’s not going to be easy (having to following the safety instructions), but there’s nothing like working out with the team. I’ve been working out by myself, but being (back) with the guys (teammates) is definitely fun.”
Szmyt was named one of the top three lickers heading into the season along with Wake Forest’s Nick Sciba and Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic. The junior from Illinois is already the Orange’s career leader in field goal percentage (.850) with 47 successful three-pointers, just 12 away from Cole Murphy’s career record (2014-17).
The last two Syracuse players to have multiple All-American seasons in their ‘Cuse careers were CB Kevin Abrams and LB Antwaune Ponds back in the 1995-97 seasons. SU has a chance to duplicate that accomplishment with strong seasons in 2020 by Cisco and Szmyt.