Syracuse Football Camp: Day 4 - Tight Ends Impress, Donnie Simmons Aims to Start

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 30: Nick Provo #80 of the Syracuse Orange runs with the ball while defended by Camerron Cheatham #21 and Wesley Richardson #24 of the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on October 30 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tight End Nick Provo was one of our most steady presences on offense last year, and whether or not Syracuse can effectively replace his production is a legitimate concern. However, junior Beckett Wales and true freshman Ron Thompson have done their best to quell these fears.

Dave Rahme was very high on both after seeing their performances in yesterday's practice:

Junior tight end Beckett Wales made a fabulous over-the-shoulder fingertip catch of a 45-yard Ryan Nassib pass early in the workout. It is easy to see why SU coaches believe he can fill the shoes of departed Nick Provo...

Ron Thompson, a tight end, also made impressive receptions during the 7-on-7 work...Thompson’s road to playing time could be easier to navigate, as SU’s depth at tight end isn’t great.

While SU doesn't have a ton of depth at tight end, the opposite side is ripe with talent...just not a lot of experience. Enter redshirt freshman Donnie Simmons:

Simmons appeared to be so undersized when he arrived a year ago from downstate packing maybe 220 pounds onto his 6-foot-2 frame that many wondered whether he might be moved to linebacker to help provide needed depth there.

Instead he remained at end, working on his technique on the field and his strength off it. Simmons came out of spring ball first on the depth chart at one end ahead of senior Deon Goggins, although the two continue to battle neck-and-neck for the starting job. He reported to camp weighing a more DE-like 243 pounds (Goggins is 275).

Rahme notes that with Brandon Sharpe, another speed rusher like Simmons, starting at the opposite end, Goggins might be the more natural fit at defensive end. However, Simmons is a very exciting prospect. This is a guy who returned kicks for his high school team. Whether he starts or not, it's great to hear that Simmons is bulking up a bit and ready to make an impact.

One last major note...punter controversy!

When walk-on punter Riley Dixon gets hold of one, look out. He boomed several high 60-yarders during punting drills and seemed to have the better of scholarship sophomore Jonathan Fisher during this practice. These competitions go back and forth, though, and each has displayed a powerful leg at times so far while being inconsistent at others.

Intrigue!

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