Orange Watch: A most successful offseason for 2022 Syracuse Football

Syracuse-Rutgers Jones
Sep 11, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange linebacker Mikel Jones speaks to reporters following SU's 17-7 loss at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brad Bierman/The Juice Online.

Item: It’s just over 90 days until Syracuse football kicks off the most important period in the seven-year Dino Babers era, hosting Louisville in a tough conference opener (1-7 vs. the ‘Ville in ACC games) at the Dome on September 3 (8:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network). Not only is it already the upcoming 10th season of ACC play for the Orange, but unless SU has a winning record and makes a bowl appearance in one of 12 league affiliated games, it’s more than likely hard decisions will have to be made regarding Baber’s tenure directing the program in the future.

We love summer, so no rush to suddenly flip the calendar to September.

But at the same time, we can’t wait until September and the 2022 Syracuse football season, one that we think has enormous potential to be a pleasant surprise, and exceed the 4.5 over/under number of total wins already put on the futures board by several betting sites.

Other than the concern regarding experienced depth and a sufficient contributing rotation on the defensive line, the ability to boot virtually every kickoff into the endzone for a touchback (there were none in the spring game with no live action), and of course keeping fingers crossed on injuries, this group should be the best under Babers since the 2018 team went 10-3 and capped it off beating West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.

Assembling an upgraded staff of assistant coaches, effective use of the transfer portal for this year’s team, a fit-the-need recruiting strategy for 2022, and strong start for 2023 recruiting are the highlights since Pittsburgh trampled SU in the 2021 finale last November.

Here’s a chronological look at many of the offseason developments that has Orange Nation excited:

» Related: From Carrier to the JMA Wireless Dome for Syracuse

  • December 9 – Bob Ligashesky is named special teams coordinator arriving from Bowling Green.
  • December 11 – Kicker Andre Szmyt reversed an earlier decision and announced his plan to come back to the Orange program for his fifth season of eligibility.
  • December 15 – Syracuse signed 13 players in the early signing period, including Australian punter Max Von Marburg to compete with expected starter James Williams.
  • December 16 – Junior linebacker Mikel Jones announced his return instead of opting into the NFL draft.
  • December 30 – Dino Babers named Robert Anae as offensive coordinator, and Jason Beck as quarterbacks coach, both seasoned and successful coaches coming over from Virginia.
  • December 31 – Junior cornerback Garrett Williams announced his return to the program instead of declaring for the NFL draft.
  • February 2 – During the traditional February recruiting day which yielded three incoming freshmen, SU announced five transfers joined the program: CJ Hayes WR from Michigan State, Dan Villari QB from Michigan, Juwaun Price RB from New Mexico State, Alijah Clark DB from Rutgers, and DB Bralyn Oliver from Louisville.
  • February 7 – SU announced that Dartmouth cornerback Isaiah Johnson transferred into the program with two seasons of eligibility.
  • March 6 – Syracuse began spring practice highlighted by the Orange-Blue game in the Dome on April 1, which did not include appearances from RB Sean Tucker and QB Garrett Shrader, but did include a nice two TD passing performance from QB Justin Lamson. The offseason lowlight was the reported serious knee injury Lamson suffered in practice the week after the Orange-Blue game.
  • May 4 – Syracuse and Penn State announced a renewal of their series for games at State College in 2027, and in the Dome in 2028. The teams last met in 2008-2009.
  • May 7 – Wide receiver D’Marcus Adams, a onetime Florida State recruit, transferred into the program from Florida Atlantic with two seasons of eligibility.
  • May 19 – JMA Wireless is officially introduced as the new naming rights partner of the Dome, with plans to bring state-of-the-art 5G technology into the building.
  • May 24 – Quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson announced he transferred from Florida, and is expected to compete for the starting quarterback job with Shrader during pre-season practice.

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About Brad Bierman 821 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.