The Syracuse football season is getting closer and closer. In the lead-up to kickoff, we'll be previewing every position group on the Orange squad, making sure you're fully prepared for September 4. Today, we take a look at the...
Syracuse Orange Quarterbacks
Last year, the quarterback position was rough for Syracuse. You don't need to be told that, but it bears repeating for emphasis. Things were beyond difficult tor Orange passers, and if SU's going to rebound as a team in 2015, it may begin with the quarterback position.
Terrel Hunt, (Redshirt) Senior
Going into 2014, we saw Hunt -- he of pretty impressive improvement at the close of the previous season -- as the guiding force behind a promising offensive attack. That was far from the case, however, as the seasoned QB struggled to throw the ball while taking too many hits for five games. He was as adept as ever on the ground (his 156 rushing yards against Maryland were especially impressive), but those knocks, failing accuracy and a bunch of turnovers would lead to less-than-positive results overall. Now, healthy and once again the starting quarterback, all eyes are on him yet again. And with changes to the offense, he may actually be up to the challenge. Back in the spring, the senior described the 2014 SU offense as "a jack of all trades but a master of none," and seems confident this year will be different. If he can be more accurate and avoid getting beaten up too much this fall -- there's faith he'll round into the leader the Orange need to be successful.
A.J. Long, Sophomore
Taking the lion's share of snaps following Hunt's injury departure last year, Long actually performed admirably. With extreme confidence and a noticeably better deep ball (than Hunt), the 6-foot QB showed Orange fans a hell of a lot through some pretty rough circumstances. While he's slated to redshirt this season, that shouldn't be seen as a bad thing at all, especially with regard to last year's results. This staff does put a lot of stock in Long's abilities to lead this program in some future season (probably next year), and getting that extra year of eligibility from him is the right call if they can swing it. Should Hunt succumb to injury or poor play again, though, expect that 'shirt to be burned pretty quickly and for A.J. to be tossed into the starting role yet again. (And hopefully he's able to put on a little bit more muscle should that time come this season)
, (Redshirt) Sophomore
Wilson's a smart dude, and you have to feel for the circumstances he was put in last season (and really, his Orange career, at this point). Following the "punch heard 'round the Dome," he was thrown unexpectedly into the opener against Villanova, and then watched as SU needed its punter to throw the winning score instead of him. He ended up injured against Florida State, costing him the starting job to Long. And then, he never seemed to get his rhythm back in various attempts to return under center. Now, he'll enter the year as the No. 2 QB, mostly due to Long's redshirt, and you have to wonder what the rest of his time with SU brings given the players listed above and below him.
Zack Mahoney, Sophomore
Mahoney may be a walk-on, but he's a preferred walk-on, and that's a distinction that will matter in case last year's QB injury bug hits year two (please, no...). Back in 2014, he threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns at DuPage, and after a year with the JUCO Chaparrals, Zack wanted to join the Orange. Again, he's unlikely to be in the QB race per se, but he's better suited than most fourth(-ish) options to take the reigns if called upon.
Eric Dungey, Freshman
Syracuse doesn't mine Oregon for too many recruits, but that's not a bad thing for well-regarded addition Dungey. The three-star dual-threat may have a little Johnny Football in him (at least based on the game tape), and despite the VERY likely redshirt this fall, there should be excitement about what he could bring to the Orange in the future. Expect to hear murmurs here and there about his progress in practice, before he gets to fully throw himself into the QB competition come 2016 along with a good deal of other SU players.
Kenterius Womack, Freshman
Womack was a post-National Signing Day add for Syracuse, but that doesn't mean he's less integral to the team's future plans at quarterback than Dungey is. Despite the late hype and commitment, he's a high-character and IQ kid from Alabama, who can play both ways and possesses some solid height at 6-foot-3. When he visited SU's campus, we knocked his socks off and he pushed off a meeting with Michigan to just commit to the Orange instead. Like Dungey, we'll see what happens in 2016 and beyond, but he's going to redshirt this season barring some sort of never-seen-before disaster.
So, sure, we know Hunt's the starter going into the opener against Rhode Island. That's not up for debate. But that doesn't mean the Orange quarterback situation is just "settled" for 2015 at all. With luck, Hunt delivers a performance reminiscent of the close of 2013, the Syracuse offense improves from last year's disaster and the Orange find their way to six wins. If not (and for my health and yours, let's hope that's not the case), expect the questions and changes to come fast and furiously as the coaching staff attempts to rescue the season (and possibly more than that).
What do you think, though? Is Hunt "the guy" without a doubt? If he is, who on the roster looks like the next player to line up under center come next fall? And if he isn't, is Long assured the role of starter? Share your thoughts in the comments.