So much for "50-50." RB Averin Collier, who Doug Marrone already warned us was unlikely to play for the Orange this season, did not report for preseason activities on Sunday and is almost certainly not going to play in 2010.
The Rochester-area running back, a sophomore in terms of eligibility, was not among approximately 92 players who reported for the preseason Sunday to the football wing at Manley Field House, coach Doug Marrone said.
Marrone said "it looks like" Collier was not able to resolve academic issues that would have made him eligible. The coach stopped short of calling it a done deal but said he wasn’t optimistic Collier would play.
Sugar-coat all you like, Syracuse is now without two of its three top running backs. Delone Carter should return at some point (He’s in a judicial process," Marrone said) but who knows if he'll be at 100%. Antwon Bailey was already set to be the No. 1 back without Carter around but Collier was expected to get a lot of touches. A team without any depth much reach that much deeper to find some.
Collier is still on the official roster at the time of this writing, so take that as about as good a sign as you're gonna get. Once he drops off there, there's no turning back (or mentioning of his name by HCDM). (Update: An update to the article says that Collier is now definitely out.)
One way the Orange expect to combat the loss of their top RB(s) is to fill that depth chart back up. Along with some of the freshman already expected to play the position, Marrone has moved freshman Steven Rene from WR to RB. Rene came to us as an ATH so it was never out of the realm of possibility to begin with. The young man must be excited, given what he said back when he committed:
As soon as walked into the building, I saw the big trophies, the pictures of Ernie Davis, Donovan McNabb, Keith Bulluck ... it was wonderful. It was inspirational, especially Ernie Davis. He was a running back, the same position I play. It was awesome. I could see myself playing there."
Dorian Graham, who spent last season in the defensive backfield, will shift over to fill the void left by Rene at WR.
Another player that might not be playing the Orange this season (a phrase I'm way too used to saying) is Juco transfer Lou Alexander. "Things are pending" according to Marrone and the issue seems to be academic. Alexander comes to us from College of the Canyons and had chosen SU over Oregon, UCLA and Washington. So that's not a good loss if it happens.
As for all that empty space created by the departure of these and MANY OTHER players? Fill it with Walk-Ons! Dave Rahme says the amount of non-scholarships players on hand this year are the "largest number of walk-ons I have ever seen in my 15 or so seasons covering the team." So that's...something. HCDM tells Rahme that a few of the walk-ons "have real potential." I'd laugh but then again Ryan Lichtenstein was a walk-on when he first got here and, well, he's not anymore.
The only good news to come from the possible losses of Collier, Alexander and others? Glaude will have a reason to update his "No Longer On The Team" Scoreboard.
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