It's been a couple weeks since we've heard a lot about Syracuse football, but that changed late yesterday. With media availability once again, Orange coach Scott Shafer shared plenty of thoughts with those in attendance, and we also received additional insight on how those early position battles are shaping out.
Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey does a nice job of summing everything up on Twitter, as does Nate Mink in his "five things we learned" piece. So check those out if you'd like. Otherwise, some things we learned:
Alvin Cornelius is really proving himself so far in spring ball. Working with Steve Ishmael and the first-team lately, the redshirt junior's come on strong and is asserting himself into the team's developing offensive strategy. We've yet to see Cornelius truly reach his potential, but would be great to see another capable, true wideout option to pair with Ishmael to start the year. Shafer's concerned about the other options there, per yesterday's comments, so any good news helps.
Shafer says Kayton Samuels could be in the defensive line mix this fall. Considering the transition in that position group, it would be awesome to see a younger guy like Samuels be able to step up. So far, that seems to be the case, as Shafer raves about his work ethic and teases out his ability to jump in come the fall. No, he's probably not a starter, but depth was a concern, so it's welcome news there may be some.
Kendall Moore still needs to gain a pound per week. The former tight end's transition to the offensive line is well under way, as he's now coming in at 252 pounds. But that's still a bit undersized to be an impact player there. Shafer says he's the most athletic linemen they have (makes sense), but that bulk is what's going to help. There are just over 23 weeks until the season starts, so if all goes well, Moore should be at 275 when the Orange kick off. We'll see...
Not at all what you want to hear about Brisly Estime, who was supposed to come back and be a factor in this offense...
Shafer: WR Brisly Estime is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Hampered him through last season, too.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) March 24, 2015
Parris Bennett is asserting himself in that other starting linebacker spot, joining Marqez Hodge and Zaire Franklin. Some have been worried about the transition Syracuse will have to undergo at linebacker, but it's reassuring that Bennett's already putting himself in the lead for the role. An excellent athlete, Bennett's presence on the outside could really lighten the load for the line and help the defense pick up right where it left off in terms of causing havoc for opponents.
seems to be a big fan of Ishmael. Not that we needed another reason to be excited about what the sophomore wide receiver is capable of, but that's a ringing endorsement from the former Orange great.is back around campus, and
Off the field, Shafer threw his support behind Jim Boeheim amidst the NCAA sanctions, and also showed a lot of support for Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud as well. Said Shafer to Syracuse.com's Nate Mink:
"When you have a change agent, you always have to look at the top, and I feel really great about what Chancellor (Kent) Syverud is doing and some of the moves he's made for the program... I really trust because of his actions moving forward the things he's put in place for us, and I know he'll find a great AD."
Obviously Shafer understands the position he's in with this program and the need for it to be both successful and clear of any NCAA wrongdoing. Gaining an ally in Syverud is critical to his success and his long-term job security, as one might imagine.
Additionally, he channeled Martha Stewart when discussing SU's new ORANGE football uniforms, telling Syracuse.com, "it's a good thing" that the team is actually wearing the color its named for.
Just a handful of practices left for the Orange before the spring game kicks off at the Carrier Dome on April 4. For those who didn't see today, SU put together all the information here (also pictured below):