This season Delone Carter will add to his solid career as a Syracuse running back. Next year, Antwon Bailey will finally take his place atop the depth chart, possibly helped by Averin Collier (who knows). After that, it gets a little murky. And murky isn't something we like when it comes to our running back situation.
There are some candidates for The Next Great Syracuse Running Back (TNGSRB), including Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith, but we're a ways from finding out if they can carry high the torch of Orange-y capability. We'll watch them closely and see how they play, how they grow, how they progress along the way.
But what if there was another way to predict TNGSRB? Not with statistics, game-film and practice...but by using arbitrary pieces of historical information culled Malcolm Gladwell-style? Could we look at all the Great Syracuse RBs that came before and find a correlation...a pattern? Let's investigate, shall we?
Where do great Syracuse running backs come from? We know that their souls dine with the Gods for seven glorious days and nights before descending to Earth in order to inflict massive amounts of pain on Pittsburgh linebackers. But where do they come from in the world? Would you believe Ohio?
Delone Carter (Akron), Walter Reyes (Youngstown) and Larry Csonka (Stow) all hail from that state over there in the middle of the country that we're all not sure exactly where it is but we know it's close to Michigan. Carter was literally Mr. Ohio in his senior season, and had the award been around in Csonka's day, he probably would have been as well.
(Sure, Daryl Johnston grew up in New York, but was the name of his hometown? Youngstown. Curious...)
To be fair, Pennsylvania has a strong case in the argument as well. Going back to Jim Nance, the Orange have a long history of quality runners from Penn's Woods. Though raised in Elmira, Ernie Davis was born in PA. Fellow #44 Michael Owens came to us from Carlise. James Mungro (East Stroudburg) and Curtis Brinkley (Philly) have been recent additions to the fold.
It it were a situation of quantity over quality, then New York would be the obvious winner. Johnston, Jamie Covington, David Walker, Marty Januszkiewicz, Damien Rhodes, Rob Konrad and Robert Drummond all hail from the Empire State. The list isn't quite as impressive as the other states in terms of greatness, that is unless you include Jim Brown, who went to high school in NY but grew up in Georgia. And of course, it depends how you want to count Ernie Davis.
Lesson? Tyrone Wheatley should be set up with an apartment right on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border and he should spending all of January - June there. Of course, the hiring of a Michigan man for this kind of position may have just been revealed as a critical error. As for NY, we've got that covered.
What number does a great Syracuse running back wear? Seems like a silly question, given the whole #44 thing. But keep in mind, no one will ever wear #44 again, as dumb as that might sound. So we can't look to specific numbers here, we have to keep it slightly broad. And in doing so, we can realize that the higher your jersey number, the better off you are at SU.
You know the 44's, but just in case: Brown, Davis, Little, Owens, Konrad.
How about #39? The most underrated number in Syracuse RB history has been worn by Larry Csonka, Roger Praetorius and Walter Reyes. Between the three of them, they led SU in rushing five times.
Joe Morris wore #47, the high-mark of any great Syracuse RB. Then there's Kirby Dar Dar (42), Jim Nance (35) and Daryl Johnston (32).
The only solid SU runners to wear a number in the typical 20's are Brinkley (22), Mungro (23) and McIntosh (28).
And there's something to be said for going single-digit as well, at least according to Damien Rhodes (1), Delone Carter (3) and Dee Brown (6).
Lesson? Hedge your bets and get a jersey in the 30's, if not the 40's. Better chance of greatness and a prolonged NFL career.
What month of the year is best for producing a great Syracuse running back? Hey, if you want your kid to be the next Floyd Little, it's going to take a little pre-planning. So if we look at the times of the year that great SU backs were born, does it reveal anything to us? Perhaps.
Looks like you want to shoot for a December birth. That's when David Walker (12/4), Jamie Covington (12/12), Larry Csonka (12/26) and Jim Nance (12/30) were all born. Otherwise, there are some very specific date-ranges you want to shoot for:
Daryl Johnston (2/10), James Mungro (2/13) and Jim Brown (2/17) were all born within a week of one another.
Dee Brown (5/12), Ernie Davis (5/18) and Walter Reyes (5/22) make a strong case for mid-to-late May.
Joe Morris (9/15) and Curtis Brinkley (9/20) make a similiar case for mid-September.
And if you want to really take a chance, try for July 4th. That's Floyd Little's birthday. And America's. So...that's a plus.
Lesson? Lock yourself in the bedroom during March (preferably with a partner) and don't come out until you've sowed the seeds of Syracuse's next great halfback.
What's in a great Syracuse running back's name? The trendy thing to do is to feature athletes with outrageous and unique names. Unfortunately for the curiously-named, they don't seem to fare well at Syracuse. If you want to run the ball for the Orange, you better keep it boring.
Davis. Carter. Brown (x2). Owens. Morris. Thomas. Walker. Most of Syracuse's best running backs have the kind of last names that you'd change on principle if this were EA Sports NCAA Football.
Of course, there are outliers. You don't get much different than Csonka. And Dar Dar...don't think we'll ever see that again. Praetorius and Januszkiewicz spring to mind from the olden days.
As for first names, its probably even more mundane. Aside from Delone and maybe Kirby, nothing too crazy. Jim, James, Ernie, Joe, Floyd, Larry, David, Rob and Curtis. When you say it like that they sound like a bunch of dorks.
While we're on the subject of names, it also doesn't hurt to have a last name that starts with B, C or D. I mean, between Brown (x2), Davis, Carter, Csonka, Covington, Dar Dar, Drummond, Brinkley and even Bailey, the evidence is overwhelming.
Lesson? Keep It Simple, Stupid. Up until recently, we had a running back on the roster named Mike Jones. I kid you not, that guy was destined for immortality. Oh well. If I were you, I'd go with something like Bob Brown. I've even change my last name to Brown if it wasn't that already. Even if my last name was Thunderpants. I'd still change it.
So now that we know the parameters, let's apply them to the young RBs we have on the roster and see which one, if any of them, have what it arbitrarily takes to be TNGSRB.
#1 - Where Do They Come From?
Prince-Tyson Gulley hails from Akron, Ohio, Jerome Smith comes from Bear, Delaware
Winner: Prince-Tyson Gulley in a landslide.
#2 - What Number Do They Wear?
PTG - 23, JS - 45
Winner: Bigtime win for Jermone.
#3 - What month were they born?
PTG - May, JS - April
Winner: PTG takes this one, though I'd like to confirm if he was born in early May or late May. The later the better.
#4 - What's in a name?
Prince-Tyson Gulley, Jerome Smith
Winner: Far and away it's Jerome Smith. Tyson was already pressing it before he added the Prince back in. We're due for a star RB named Smith, one of the few generic last names we have yet to feature.
And the overall winner and The Next Great Syracuse Running Back is...PUSH. Guess we're just gonna have to rely on all that practicing and playing and training. But where's the fun in that?