Item: Last week’s announcement of the players from each ACC team that will travel to Charlotte for this week’s two-day (July 21-22) media extravaganza, provided an interesting observation regarding the Syracuse contingent that will be on hand.
It’s the most important position in sports. No team wins football games without a top-notch quarterback. It’s no coincidence that the not-so-consistent recent winning seasons for Syracuse are centered around the player under center.
The 2010 and 2012 Pinstripe Bowl teams were led by future NFL player Ryan Nassib (a limited five game pro career with the New York Giants), while the 2018 Camping World Bowl team that finished 9-3 was under the orchestration of Eric Dungey, who signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in May after short stints with the Giants and Cleveland Browns.
So, it was interesting to note than when the ACC attendees were announced July 12 (the league this year increased from two to three the number of players representing each school), Syracuse was the only school not sending a quarterback to meet the media, while at the other end of the spectrum both Florida State and Virginia are sending two quarterbacks among their three respective team members.
Instead of a quarterback, senior DL Josh Black, WR Taj Harris, and OL Aaron Servais will join Dino Babers to promote the 2021 Orange, and missing is two-year starting QB Tommy DeVito, the most experienced SU player at the most important position on the roster.
What a difference the past two seasons make. In 2019, Devito, inheriting the starting mantle from Dungey, was prominently featured in pre-season coverage, and he joined former defensive end Kendall Coleman at the “kickoff.”
Now after a 5-7 season in ’19, last year’s miserable 1-10 finish in which DeVito suffered a season-ending injury in the fourth game against Duke, and an upcoming projected battle with Mississippi State sophomore transfer Garrett Shrader (who’s listed 6’5”/215 lbs. build and playing style is more like Dungey’s) for the starting job heading into the September 4 season opener at Ohio University (7:00 p.m. ET/CBS Sports Network), Babers is not going to tip his hand in July by anointing DeVito the starter and subjecting him to the subsequent media inquiries that would follow.
At the same time, Babers had his choice of seniors to represent the program publicly at such a high-profile event, covering his bases in case Shrader beats out DeVito as the stater during pre-season camp.
Even without DeVito on hand this week, one prediction that is easy to make is that Babers, along with Black, Harris, and Servais to some degree, are going to be asked THE question time and again by those in attendance: “Who’s going to be the week 1 starting quarterback against Ohio University?”