Former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is confident that the Orange is in for a turnaround in 2021.
Syracuse went a dismal 1-10 in 2020, as injuries mounted and the offense struggled to score. But with a deeper offensive line and many key players returning on defense, Dungey—who is making his return to professional football in The Spring League in May—believes 2021 will be a different story.
“This is a the year,” Dungey said on this week’s edition of The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by SNY.tv. “I’m really excited to see them play, and I think they can do very well.”
One of the factors that Dungey pointed to was depth at quarterback. Last year, Syracuse struggled with its play under center with quarterback Tommy DeVito getting injured midway through the year. It forced SU to play musical chairs at quarterback, with Rex Culpepper and JaCobian Morgan struggling to run Dino Babers’ offense.
That will change this year with the arrival of Mississippi State quarterback transfer Garrett Shrader and highly touted freshman Justin Lamson.
“You have a couple of quarterbacks that will push Tommy,” Dungey said. “The competition, that’s what they needed there—competition within the team. That’s how we were so successful (in 2018). We just competed with each other every day. And when you’re playing against other people, it felt like a scrimmage because you were going hard in practice every day.”
Dungey also believes the offense will improve with the return of Taj Harris. Harris finished with 58 receptions, 733 yards and five touchdowns in his junior season, all career highs. He will enter 2021 as of the ACC’s top receivers.
“(Taj is) such a special player,” Dungey said. “You have one receiver like that who can just take the top off a defense and really just stretch the field, and you got Tommy.”
Dungey also reflected on his Syracuse career, which ended with a 10-win season in 2018 and a 34-18 win in the Camping World Bowl over West Virginia. He threw for 303 yards and a touchdown in that game, and was named MVP.
It was the first time Syracuse had won 10 games and finished ranked inside the top 25 since 2001.
“It was senior year and we were able to put that all together and win the Camping World Bowl,” Dungey said. “It was fulfilling and all of that hard work paid off. And it got me excited to play at the next level.”
In the professional ranks, Dungey has had stints in the NFL with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns, and Dallas Renegades of the XFL. But the opportunities have been scarce because of COVID until an opportunity with The Spring League came up.
“I just want to show the NFL scouts that I’m still ready to play,” Dungey said. “I’m a leader. I belong behind center. I’m more confident and eager than ever.”
The Blues season opener will be on May 7 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
“I’ve been so motivated the past year,” Dungey said. “It’s incredibly frustrating to watch the NFL because I felt like I belonged out there.”
Afterward, TJO editor in chief Brad Bierman joined me to talk about Jimmy Boeheim officially announcing his transfer to Syracuse from Cornell.