With more than a month gone by in Syracuse football’s spring practices, head coach Dino Babers addressed the media for the first time since March 20. Here are some of the highlights of what he said.
Quarterback competition is fierce
For the first time since 2018, the Orange has true depth at quarterback.
That year, quarterbacks Eric Dungey and Tommy DeVito were legitimate ACC-level quarterbacks, and Babers said the competition in practice helped propel the Orange to a 10-3 season.
The 2021 team has even more depth and talent. DeVito returns from an injury-marred 2020 season, and the highlighted position battle has been between him and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader.
But SU’s quarterback depth goes beyond just QB1 and QB2.
Syracuse has three other quarterbacks who have impressed Babers in practice.
True freshman Justin Lamson is Syracuse’s highest rated incoming quarterback since DeVito in 2017. He joins sophomores JaCobian Morgan and Dillon Markiewicz, who each appeared in their freshman seasons after DeVito’s injury.
“We’ve got the best (quarterback) room since I’ve been here,” Babers said. “From one through five, those guys have been something.”
The O-line has depth, too
Because of injuries and other circumstances, Syracuse’s offensive line was decimated last season, forcing SU to use fullback Chris Elmore at left guard. It exposed a need for more depth in the offseason.
And that’s exactly what happened over the winter, as the Orange added key pieces through the transfer market and in its freshman class.
The new additions are headlined by incoming Texas transfer Willie Tyler and Florida transfer Chris Bleich, who is eligible after sitting out a season because of NCAA rules. Jakob Bradford, a JUCO transfer, also joins five incoming freshmen which includes four-star offensive tackle Enrique Cruz.
Syracuse also returns all of its major contributors from last year’s line, which means that the Orange will have plenty of bodies in the trenches. It will need all the help it can get as it finished dead last in the ACC in Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings from 2020.
“I really like where we’re at with the top … eight guys,” Babers said. “I don’t ever want to be in a situation where we don’t have enough offensive linemen again, period.”
Babers really likes Williams
There was only one name that Babers mentioned when asked about a star performer in the secondary.
“Garrett (Williams),” Babers said. “And besides Garrett, Garrett stands out. He’s the bomb.”
Williams had a standout 2020 and was named Freshman All-America. It was baptism by fire as the Orange lost Andre Cisco to an ACL injury, and Trill Williams as he declared early for the NFL Draft.
But Williams shined in his expanded role, which included a highlight pick-6 against Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, widely regarded as an elite quarterback prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Speaking of which, Trill Williams and Cisco join Ifeatu Melifonwu as Syracuse underclassmen defensive backs who are projected to selected over the next three days.
“It speaks wonders about (Syracuse football),” Babers said. “It’ll be good to hear Syracuse’s name on those days.”