Every story is recognizable through the classic stages: Beginning, middle and end.
What separates the good from the bad, to me, is that "middle" section. It's the reason so many of us are scared to death to write a book. You can open with a splash to get the audience hooked, and, just the same, you could close up things with some kind of memorable finish. But what keeps someone interested, keeps them from shutting the book or simply tuning out, is the action happening in-between.
We've entered that zone, the next chapters, of Terrel Hunt's story.
Splashy beginning? Check.
Hunt was an afterthought this time last year. Drew Allen was the cowboy from the Sooner state who was going to ride in on his horse and showcase what real quarterback skills were. Of course, Allen struggled, Syracuse looked lost and Hunt stepped in and started crafting a pretty damn good tale.
We all saw the Orange put up a 106 points in back-to-back weeks with Hunt as the starter. Yes, the opponents were somethings called Wagner and Tulane respectively, but still, Terrel Hunt looked the part as the protagonist in Syracuse Orange Football. Even with growing pains, Hunt guided SU to some incredible wins, including the Texas Bowl title.
And now we're here, that make-or-break section of the story -- the meat. Will Hunt be intriguing enough? The last two games of 2013, where he kind of put the team on his back against Boston College and Minnesota, certainly makes you think he will. Also, while he didn't exactly remind anyone of Donovan McNabb, Hunt did end up completing sixty-one percent of his passes for the year and he threw for 617 yards and just one pick over the final three games of the season.
On the other hand, Hunt did pass for just 10 total touchdowns along with eight interceptions last year. And in Syracuse's worst losses of '14 -- Clemson, at Georgia Tech and at Florida State -- Hunt completed just 25 of his 56 passes total -- never once throwing for more than 75 yards in any of those games. Donovan McNabb? Hunt was more like Allen or even Perry Paterson in those games. Which could lead you to think this story won't end well, or will end with someone else leading the charges.
Yet, I think there's something with this red-shirt junior. Actually, one reason I'm excited for the upcoming seasons, chapters, is because he kind of reminds me a little bit of C.J. Fair. Yeah, that C.J. Fair from Jim Boeheim's program. Yes, Fair's ceiling was much higher than Hunt's is currently, but just bear with me for a second here.
Fair was a third-banana recruit in a highly-regarded recruiting class for Syracuse back in 2010. Fair was something of a big deal but he was certainly behind Fab Melo and Dion Waiters in terms of hype. And then Fair earned opportunities to showcase both his skills and his flaws; over time Fair eventually becomes The Man on the hardwood -- a player who went from unknown to superstar over the course of four hardworking years. A fan favorite because of his character, talent and because Fair kept us glued from the start to the finish.
Hunt wasn't highly regarded in the football world as a kid coming out of New York, he wasn't exactly in the forefront of anyone's mind the afternoon Syracuse lined up against Penn State. Yet, we'll remember 2013 as ending with another bowl win due in large part because of the quarterback. Doing what it took to get a W. Remind you a little of Fair's game? Now if 2014 and '15 are the next steps in another rebirth of Syracuse Football, Hunt will have to do what he does well and at the same time improving on his flaws. Kind of like Fair's progression through the years on the basketball court from the other guy to The Guy.
The "it" factor that kept us into Fair's story, though, was that he seemed to be a winner. Right player at the right spot right when needed. Fair contributed mightily to a series of teams that routinely pulled out victories, that had success in the post-season. Winning, is of course, always the last part of any lingering sports anecdote.
Which could very well be at the end of Hunt's journey, too. I don't know if he will leave that indelible legacy like Fair left most Orange hoops fans, it would almost be impossible for him to. But a quarterback, one that sticks around as starter for three years, has a real chance to win, to cement some memories into fan's minds forever. Hell, just ask Ryan Nassib -- he too could be compared in some ways to Fair. Like him or not, Hunt already has one winning season and one bowl win to his building legacy.
Whether you think Hunt may be in the middle of something worthwhile or whether he'll be thrown on the shelf and eventually forgotten hangs in the balance right now. We'll start to get a better idea of that soon, so long as Hunt keeps our collective attention long enough.
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