The transfer portal has a tint of Orange

Syracuse will suffer some roster attrition as nine players have entered the transfer portal

Nov 28, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Nykeim Johnson (4) outruns North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive back Tyler Baker-Williams (13) to score a touchdown in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer portal is now an integral part of recruiting.

Players are free to seek out opportunities that suit them better, whether it be for increased playing time or simply longing for a change of scenery. The player’s name is entered into a database that coaches at every school can access.

Schools can use the transfer portal to help shore up positions that lack depth due to recruiting misses, losing players to transfer, or career-ending injuries.

Nine Syracuse players have entered their names into the transfer portal since the season ended. Some of those losses will have a bigger impact than others. Here’s a rating of each transfer on a scale from one to five. A five signifies a big loss for the team while a one equates to a minimal loss, if any.

Drew Gunther

Gunther came to Syracuse as a Preferred Walk-on. He announced his transfer to Bowling Green at the end of August. Gunther probably looked at the quarterback room and saw Tommy DeVito and Rex Culpepper ahead of him. Dino Babers recruited JaCobian Morgan and Dillon Markiewicz in the same class to build quality depth that he felt he didn’t have. Gunther saw the writing on the wall.

Transfer Loss Rank: 1 of 5

Jawhar Jordan

Seeing Jordan’s name show up in the transfer portal hurts. A lot.

Jordan is a chunk play waiting to happen thanks to his game-breaking speed. But like countless teammates last season, he was lost for the year after three games.

Next year’s running back room is potentially crowded if Abdul Adams and/or Jarveon Howard return. No official announcement has been made about either player.

True freshman Sean Tucker looks to have cemented his spot as RB1 on the depth chart. And Cooper Lutz made a case for some carries given his late season performance. Throw in recruit Josh Hough and his combination of size and speed and Jordan might’ve decided to look for greener pastures.

Jordan seems perfect for the Erv Philips slot receiver role given his wheels. And the opportunity exists with Nykeim Johnson’s departure.

With a healthy DeVito and an improved offensive line, Jordan and his legs had the potential to be an important cog in the offense next year.

Transfer Loss Rank: 5 of 5

Garrison Johnson

The Texas running back, a member of the 2019 recruiting class, announced his transfer at the start of August. Johnson didn’t play a single snap his true freshman year. This simply might’ve been a numbers game with Adams, Howard, Jordan, Tucker, and Markenzy Pierre all competing for carries. Still, he reportedly had offers from Indiana, Nebraska, and Virginia, so there is some talent there.

Transfer Loss Rank: 2 of 5

Markenzy Pierre

Once Adams and Howard opted out of the season, the opportunity for Pierre to seize plenty of playing time, if not the starting role, was there. The door opened that much more when Jordan went down. But despite playing in every game on special teams, Pierre only carried the ball 21 times for 48 yards.

Transfer Loss Rank: 2.5 of 5

Nykeim Johnson

The senior receiver’s loss will certainly be felt in the passing game and the return game. Though smaller in size, Johnson ran like he was shot out of a cannon. His bursts of speed resulted in some long touchdown receptions, including an 83-yarder at Clemson and a 60-yard score against NC State.

Johnson led the ACC with 169 punt-return yards and was second in kick-return yards with 395. The Washington, DC native has one year remaining and will be immediately eligible for former Syracuse staffer Sean Lewis at Kent State.

Transfer Loss Rank: 5 of 5

Aaron Hackett

Another departing pass-catcher is tight end Aaron Hackett.

Syracuse’s passing game largely stayed away from the tight ends this year despite having Hackett and Luke Benson, the sophomore who displayed some serious jets as a true freshman.

This avoidance was probably due in large part to the struggles of the Orange offensive line. Hackett’s role on the offense became more of a blocker in the running game and in pass protection.

Like Johnson, Hackett has one year remaining and will be eligible immediately. His senior leadership and reliable hands will be missed.

Transfer Loss Rank: 4 of 5

Cooper Dawson

Dawson came to Syracuse in the Class of 2019 from Hanahan, SC. He redshirted his first season before opting out this past season. He accumulated no stats in his time with the Orange. Dawson was listed as a defensive lineman on Syracuse’s website.

Transfer Loss Rank: 2 of 5

Jason Munoz

Munoz was originally committed to the Miami Hurricanes. After decommitting, Syracuse swooped in and secured his pledge.

Like Dawson, Munoz came to Syracuse as part of the Class of 2019, redshirted his first year, and wasn’t with the team this past season.

You hate to see a Florida kid leave given that the state is a hotbed of talent. But defensive line is a strength of this year’s recruiting class and Munoz might’ve found himself buried on the bench a year from now.

Transfer Loss Rank: 2 of 5

Cam Jonas

Jonas was an exciting prospect out of Florida despite tearing his ACL during high school. The redshirt sophomore appeared in three games this season.

The secondary, the strength of the defense this past season, is taking some hits with the departures of Andre Cisco, Trill Williams, and Ifeatu Melifonwu for the NFL Draft. Those losses will translate into opportunities for younger players, of which, Jonas filled that bill.

Babers still has some young talent returning in the secondary with Garrett Williams, Ja’Had Carter, and Rob Hanna. Jonas would’ve provided solid depth, at a minimum.

Transfer Loss Rank: 3 of 5

The transfer portal hasn’t been all departures for Syracuse. To date, they’ve landed one very big fish at a crucial position.

Garrett Shrader

Shrader is transferring to Syracuse with his eyes on unseating Tommy DeVito for the starting quarterback job, if he’s granted immediate eligibility. If not, he has to be considered the favorite to take over after DeVito exhausts his eligibility. The former Mississippi State signal caller was a 4-star prospect in high school.

He started ten games as a true freshman two years ago. Shrader threw for eight touchdowns and 1,170 yards while rushing for 587 yards and six scores. His dual-threat capabilities provide an added dimension to an Orange offense seeking to regain its scoring punch.

Transfer Gain Rank: 5 of 5

Syracuse still has a handful of open scholarships for the Class of 2021. As the National Letter of Intent Day in early February approaches, let’s see if the Orange can again use the transfer portal to its advantage, as it appears to have done with Shrader’s commitment.

About Steve Auger 165 Articles
Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. And according to Rutgers' fans, he's "not a take."