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So Goes Averin Collier: Academically-Ineligible RB Leaves Syracuse

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In December of 2007, I praised Greg Robinson. I remember it clearly because it happened so few times. Specifically, I was impressed by Gregger's ability to attract two four-star recruits to come play at Syracuse at the height of the program's misery.

Those recruits were Marcus Sales, rated the 27th-best WR in the nation, and Averin Collier, rated the 10th-best RB in the nation.

Next year will be their senior seasons. Sales will likely remain a sometimes-role player on the WR depth chart long passed over by younger talent. As for Collier, whatever he's doing he won't be wearing orange while doing it. Academically-ineligible for 2010, Collier has official left the team and will not return in 2011.

Collier, a third-year tailback from Rochester, missed the 2010 season due to what the school described as academic issues but was enrolled in school for the fall semester and returned to practice after missing preseason camp. He played the role of scout team tailback for most of the season but was absent toward the end of November, raising concerns about his status.

This evening, head coach Doug Marrone addressed those concerns by announcing that Collier is no longer part of the program. Marrone refused to discuss the issue further, adhering to a policy he established upon his arrival of not publicly talking about a player who is no longer on the team.

What does it say of the way Sales and Collier have ended up? Is it an indictment of the Rivals/Scout rating system? Is it an indictment on Greg Robinson as a recruiter? Is it an indictment on the work ethic of both players? Some of them? All of the above?

The move is puzzling. As Dave Rahme notes, Collier was a good student in high school. If it's an issue of playing time, Collier was likely going to see a lot of it next year.

Now? The Orange are left with two running backs with any experience (Antwon Bailey & Prince-Tyson Gulley). Expect Jerome Smith to become a lot more important when he returns as well.

The hard truth is that, even if he had returned, Collier would have likely fallen short of expectations. Antwon Bailey arrived at SU the same year as Collier and, despite being rated well below Averin, surpassed him on the depth chart early on.

Collier did work with the scout team during early practices this season. He stopped showing up towards the end of November. And now he's gone.