Syracuse football’s season may be over, but the look forward to next season has already started.
Last week, the Orange signed 19 players at the start of the early signing period, and with the exception of Hayden Nelson flipping to UCLA the day before, there was little drama for the Orange, as they got NLIs from every player they expected.
Now that we’ve had a week to digest, the question becomes how those 19 players will fit into Syracuse’s rebuild after a 1-10 season. I chatted with Stephen Bailey from 247 Sports on The Juice on the Cuse podcast to find out more about the 2021 NLI class.
But before we started on the incoming freshmen, I wanted to ask Stephen about the big news over the weekend, with four-star Mississippi State quarterback Garrett Shrader transferring to Syracuse.
“Bottom line is that they have two quarterbacks that are capable of playing at the Power 5 level,” Stephen said.
With Tommy DeVito announcing his return, there will be a quarterback competition in the spring. But regardless of who wins, it’s likely that both will play at some point. The last time SU didn’t have to play two quarterbacks in a season was back during the Ryan Nassib era in 2012.
As for the 19 players who signed, four-star cornerback Duce Chestnut appears to have the inside track to play early, Stephen says. The Orange have had plenty of attrition in the offseason, with Ifeatu Melifonwu, Andre Cisco and Trill Williams all announcing their early departures for the NFL Draft.
“Duce is the one guy who makes sense to play right away,” Stephen said. “He’s got the physical tools to play early.”
Another talented recruit who may vie for early snaps is Pennsylvania three-star running back Josh Hough. The Orange is always in need of a power back, Stephen says, and with Jarveon Howard’s status still up in the air, SU may turn to Hough, who is powerfully built at 6-0 and 254 pounds.
As for sleepers in the class, Stephen is high on defensive lineman Jatius Geer, who has a college-ready physique at 6-5, 260 pounds, and linebackers Malik Matthew and Austin Roon, who fit the mold of the bigger, stronger linebackers the Orange is looking for in their 3-3-5 scheme.
“There’s a lot of promising players,” Stephen said, “but you’re not going to see a lot of them early.”
That’s because the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility with the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the Orange is returning some sixth year players like Airon Servais, which will give Dino Babers the luxury of redshirting players.
TJO Editor in Chief Brad Bierman then calls in and we chat about Syracuse basketball’s dramatic overtime victory over Buffalo on Saturday and Kadary Richmond’s emergence as SU’s top point guard. Though Jim Boeheim got defensive when asked about Joe Girard’s early struggles, Brad says that Boeheim is going to go with the hot hand when crunch time happens, whoever that may be.
We wrap up the show discussing the basketball team’s forced pause because of the contact tracing protocols following positive COVID-19 tests from various Buffalo players. The Orange’s next game would be Dec. 30 against Wake Forest.