Some would tell you that its the changing of the seasons that signals the beginning of football time. Some say the way the grass grows or the way the sun hangs in the sky that reminds them to dust off the pads and break out the cleats.
Me? It's not really Syracuse football season until someone important leaves the team for no apparent reason.
Two notable absences will be linebacker E.J. Carter, who would have been a sophomore, and center Jim McKenzie, who earned his undergraduate degree and decided to forego a fifth year in order to pursue a medical career.
Carter started eight of 10 games he was eligible for as a freshman last season and looked to be a rising star. Carter is still in school, Marrone said, but is not currently part of the program. As is his policy, the coach would not elaborate further on the circumstances surrounding Carter’s absence.
While he wasn't on the same level as Derrell Smith, Carter was essentially a front-runner to start at LB after a 2009 campaign that included 24 tackles & two sacks in eight starts. His absence means the Orange now have to fill another starting spot. It also means The Curse of Weakside Linebacker continues into 2010. Ryan Gillum reclaims the spot for now.
Would have been huge to get McKenzie back for another season. The three-year starting center was the anchor for the offensive line. His departure leaves a huge gap in the line, and not just literally. Medical school? LAME! Helping people is for jerks.
For those who did remain with the squad, there's a couple position changes to be aware of.
Four student-athletes will change positions for Spring ball, including [Ryan] Bartholomew, who returned to center with the graduation of three-year starter Jim McKenzie, Mike Jones, who moved from running back to wide receiver, and Shane Kimmel and David Stevens, who crossed the line of scrimmage to play fullback after playing linebacker in 2009.
Speaking of Jones, Doug Marrone seems pretty high on the speedster.
"I like him at receiver. I do," Marrone said. "He’s a guy who’s shown that he can make plays."
We like that, right? Making plays. Yes, we do.
There is an official pre-spring depth chart available, though it would be wise to put absolutely no stock in it. If last season is any indication, the fall depth chart won't look anything like this. Couple things did stand out to me...
- Marcus Sales at 3rd-string? Sales caught 28 balls last year, three for touchdowns. Now he's behind newbie transfer Aaron Weaver while 1-catch Van Chew and converted RB Mike Jones are ahead of Sales as well at another spot. Curious.
- Starting strong safety? #SHAMARKO!!!
- Max Suter way down at the bottom of the depth chart but that might just be because of his injury.
- Charley Loeb at 2nd-string. Waiting. Lurking. Looking Ridiculously-Good.
Practice begins Monday.