NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 30: Syracuse Orange head coach Doug Marrone yells at the referee against the Kansas State Wildcats during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30 2010 in New York New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Ashton Broyld is one of the most intriguing skill position prospects that Syracuse has landed in years. The hype machine has worked its magic quickly with Ashton, and this hype has been expertly crafted by a number of different factors:
1.) Ashton is an Upstate New York kid.
2.) Syracuse had to wait an extra season for Ashton to make it to campus, as he spent last year at Milford Academy.
3.) Ashton can play quarterback- a position that we've failed to fill with an elite-level athlete since Donovan McNabb in the mid-to-late 1990s.
4.) Spring practice was closed so we're not sure exactly what he's done thus far.
5.) The Spring game seems to verify the fact that he may take snaps at both running back and wide receiver, and I've heard elsewhere that the team has even looked at putting him at kick returner.
Syracuse fans seem to universally accept that Broyld is a rare talent, and that he is going to be a focal point of our offense for years to come. The question is: should SU be grooming Ashton to be the heir apparent at quarterback, or use him elsewhere right now?
The Spring game proved that Ashton belongs in D-1 ball right now, and has the athleticism to make things happen with the ball in his hands. However, Ryan Nassib is not going to relinquish a lot of snaps at quarterback- he is a proven player who has led this team to a bowl victory, and is going to find himself at the top of most of SU's record books at the end of his career. Some believe that Ashton needs to be developed as a quarterback, redshirt this year, and be ready to step up and compete for the starting job next year.
Unfortunately, Syracuse is not in a position where it can keep talent off the field.
Doug Marrone's seat is not in any way hot, but we all realize that he is in year four and he needs to get back to where we were in year two. A bowl game this year might not be imperative, but it's really close. Our schedule has ramped up this year, for sure, but this is probably our last year in the Big East, and things aren't going to get any easier in the ACC. There are valuable wins on the table. Syracuse needs to make its best effort to snag them this season. Having a playmaker like Ashton to use all over the field can only help.
One of the most unfortunate parts of the Terrel Hunt suspension this spring is that many believe that he will step up to the quarterback spot next season. However, he's behind the 8-ball now. If we knew that Hunt could be the guy in the future, it would take some of the onus off of Broyld. Charley Loeb and John Kinder will both be a year older and more experienced as well, but I've seen Loeb for two full springs and Kinder for one, as well as this year's game, and neither has inspired a lot of confidence.
Ultimately, we need to win today, and keeping Broyld off the field hurts that cause. Would it benefit his future as a quarterback to redshirt this year and just work at that position? Yes, it would. However, if he is clearly the best fit for the position next season, his talent will win out. If he's not that guy, we risk wasting a year of him learning to be the best running back or wide receiver or all-purpose offensive dynamo possible, and we take a bullet out of our offense's cartridge this season.
Syracuse should keep quarterback on the table for Broyld in the future, but we absolutely need to use his athletic gifts to our advantage this season.