Lets go over the list of graduating seniors, quite a longer list than last year, although some could argue last years was more offense-heavy in losses, and this one, far more defense-heavy.
- 8 Keon Lyn CB
- 9 Ri'Shard Anderson CB
- 11 Marquis Spruill LB
- 8 Drew Allen QB
- 17 Charley Loeb QB
- 18 Christopher Clark WR
- 28 Jeremi Wilkes SS
- 30 Steve Rene RB
- 31 Clay Cleveland FB
- 39 Greg Tobias RB
- 40 Zachary McCarrell LB
- 41 Lewellyn Coker LB
- 37 Ross Krautman K
- 48 Eric Morris LS
- 53 Lucas Albrecht DT
- 59 Macky MacPherson C
- 64 Daniel Anyaegbunam OT
- 77 Zian Jones NT
- 85 Beckett Wales TE
- 96 Jay Bromley DT
- 22 Adrian Flemming WR
- 23 Prince-Tyson Gulley RB
- 45 Jerome Smith RB
- 9 Joe Nassib CB
So we are losing about 12 starters (Ross Krautman, Keon Lyn, Adrian Flemming, Prince Tyson Gulley and Beckett Wales were injured and did not play part of this season) We appreciate all of their time in orange, regardless of how much playing time they got on the field. Id like to think even if we didn't see them on game day, they were in the background on scout teams and supporting their teammates in any way they could, and pushing our starters to make them compete for their jobs and be the best player possible.
Here's the big questions for next year:
The legacy from Coach Mac will be playing his last game in Orange soon if we go bowling. We have seen him rise from a freshman who got bullied by opposing d-lines, but could actually long snap a ball, to a true college center and team captain who blocked for 3 (and maybe 4) 1000 yard rushers and a record setting 2012 Syracuse offense. Unfortunately, I don't know how much his size and strength will translate to the NFL, but I wish him well, and I would love to see him come back to help us coach the offensive line one day and who knows - maybe we have another head Coach Mac? Crazier things have happened. Kid is all heart and gave everything he had on every down. He will be missed.
That being said, we will need a good center who's a dependable long snapper. Seamus Shanley and Jason Emerich, you're on notice here! My money is on Jason Emerich, who will be a redshirt soph next year. He got time on the field this year spelling Mackey in some situations. Shanley will be his backup more than likely.
Looks like we are getting everyone back except starter JUCO transfer Chris Clark. Adrian, poor guy has spent more or less 99% of his time in Orange injured. He was always supposed to be a good-hands speedster who was going to be our next breakout stud WR, but could never seem to overcome the nagging injuries that plagued him throughout his entire college career. He will be getting a medical redshirt and 1 more shot in 2014.
Chris Clark was a good receiver if not a bit undersized for D1 and made some good plays and actually for only 300 yards got 3 TDs, even if they were against Wagner and Tulane. The bloke did make some big plays for us and always had a knack for finding the ball in his hands. Clay Cleveland caught a couple balls this year for us, but it seems like the true fullback position is rapidly dying out in both college and the NFL, but we still have Travon Burke and AAM listed at full back, so who knows, maybe next year we actually see AAM get some more playing time after being reduced to almost nothing this year.
We are getting 3 new McDonald WR recruits next year as well -.KJ Williams, Corey Cooper, and Jamal Custis. A lot of 3 star talent in that bunch.
Other than that, we are getting everyone back. We can see if West and Kobena come back as starters, or see their time reduced to players like Broyld (who I think is most natural a fit at WR given his size, speed and desire to be on offense, as per his statements earlier in the year) and other late season standouts like Estime and Cornelius, as well as a emerging threat Josh Parris at tight end. Our passing game in general for scoring was pretty atrocious this year, and we can pin that mostly on Hunt, Kobena, and West. Outside of Chris Clark's 3 TDs caught vs Tulane and Wagner, our WRs only made 3 TD catches all season. THREE. Just so you read that right. THREE. I shed a single tear for our passing game.
You said it all, Chief.
We are losing Beckett Wales, both to injury and graduation. He was pretty underutilized this year in McDonald's offense, used more for blocking than receiver as a TE, but wasn't exactly setting the world on fire when his number came up to catch one.
PJ Batten, Nick Provo and Jake Green are behind Josh Parris in the lineup. Josh Parris had a breakout game against Boston College, and I hope McDonald realizes his value and Josh can capitalize on his late season success next year. All are young players, none more than a sophomore now and most freshman or redshirt frosh, so our stable is pretty well stocked for tight ends for the next couple seasons.
PT Gulley is out for the year, but added about 450yds of run game for us whille healthy. Im not sure if we see him play in the bowl game should we make it this year. We didn't quite get the breakout season we wanted after getting Pinstripe bowl MVP last year, but here is to hoping for 2014 he can home a little brighter. He has a redshirt to use from a broken collarbone his sophomore year.
Jerome Smith, I think may actually stay with his last year of eligibility he won last year after being injured his freshman year after 3 games. I'd put his odds at 50/50. He has graduated and gotten his degree, but he has stated that he wants to stay and loves college (heard that before though), and he would be our featured back next year if so. Not sure how interested he is in graduate classes in that case. However, since he is looking at a sub-1000 yard year barring a breakout bowl 140yd game, he may want to consider upping his draft stock for next year by coming back. Jerome didn't get his this year since we had a lot more of a diverse running back corp, and also a dual threat (sort of ) QB that ate his yardage on short gains, which is his specialty.
Who's on deck? George Morris and Devante McFarlane - I have a lot of faith in this running back tandem. They are definitely a bright spot for the future of our running back corp along with Hunt to keep defenses on their toes. They have shown good promise, racking up 600 yards in limited time on the field this season. Morris looks like he is a going to be a stud, and I dont think we have seen him hit his ceiling or anywhere close to it yet. Both have put up about even-steven 300 yards each, with Morris averaging 4.3 yards per carry and Devante about 6.3, both very respectable numbers, especially for such young players. If Jerome leaves this year, we could also seem senior AAM get some more carries as well to spell Morris and McFarlane.
Defensive Backs - Corners/Safety and Linebackers
Wayne Morgan, Brandon Reddish and MAYBE Julian Whigham (although I would not blame that kid for not putting on the pads again) will replace Keon Lyn and R'shard Anderson. We have never had a lot of faith in our secondary to stop marquee receivers, so here is to hoping Morgan and Reddish can up the ante. We also have a 2 and 3 star CB joining in the 2014 class, so we will need them to start stepping up soon too. We should be in good shape, especially if Julian is able to rejoin the team. Darius Kelly as well will be taking the field more next year a DB. He will be a senior and was a JUCO transfer. He had a great year this year, racking up 37 tackles. We also have the as yet unseen Chauncey Scissum listed as a defensive back, so there is another 3 star talent we may see on the field next year. Jaston George is among the unseen as well.
Marquis Spruill will be gone, more than likely to the NFL, and we will have to find another LB to replace him. Hopefully Luke Arceinga or Josh Kirkland can step up in his senior year and be the guy to anchor the defensive backfield. If not, we have a LOT of talent and depth here (we have about 9 LBs on our roster staying next year, and three more recruits coming in next year, so wont be dropping off too much here)
Jeremy Wilkes will also be leaving us, and we will need to replace him as well. He was a very serviceable safety, accounting for 24 tackles this year so far. I am feeling good about Ritchy Desir stepping in to replace him with his 40 tackles, but Im not sure who Desir's backup will be in 2014? That's a red flag in a grinding, violent offense to not have a good backup for the position like we did this year. We will have to wait and see how the defensive backfield moves around from Shafer and Bullough.
New Defensive lineman needed!
Jay Bromley. Mighty Jay.6'4, 300lbs- 9 sacks, 34 tackles/assists. In the top 25 for sacks on the year for NCAA D1. Guy turned into a beast and has done a great job this year especially anchoring the defensive line. The only other DT we have listed that isn't graduating is sophomore Ryan Sloan- who is a 6'2 330lb beast himself. Get ready to step into some big shoes, Ryan. Seems like you're our only DT listed returning next year. Seriously, no idea what we do if he goes down though. Dicey. Curious if they will move another defensive player into that slot or grab a good JUCO transfer. Trevon Trejo is one we might be able to slide into that space next year and bulk up, but neither bring the bulk of Mighty Jay at almost 300lbs of pass rushing muscle mass aimed to wet the pants of opposing running backs and quarterbacks.
Other than Jay, our D-line is in tact for another year of crushing the best offensive players other teams have to offer.
We aren't losing a lot for next year in terms of known quantities on the field. My take, is our biggest shoes to fill next year, are:
- DT - Jay Bromley
- Center - Macky MaPherson
- LB - Marquis Spruill
Finding someone who can replace sack machine Bromley. Maybe its Isiah Johnson, the DE who looked awesome before he was injured. Spruill got so much playing time this year at middle linebacker that we didn't really get to see anyone else, so I think this is a pretty big question mark for who can fill his mighty shoes. Luckily, we have a lot of linebacker depth and talent that we should be in good shape for next year. I'm a little sad Coker is leaving because I would have loved to have seen him step into those shoes, but alas. That guy is a heavy hitter.
All in all, this was a GOOD year. We expected a McDonalds burger (pun intended) and ended up with a decent prime rib. I expect next year to be a bigger step up in recruiting and game management. Questions? Comments? Post em!