For months now, we've been previewing the Syracuse Orange football season like it's just around the corner. Well... now it is. As we've done in years' past, we'll preview a different SU position group each week. A couple weeks ago was the the team's collection of wide receivers and tight ends. This week:
Michael Lasker, (Redshirt) Senior
Lasker got some burn over the last couple seasons, but now he's slated to start at the all-important left tackle spot -- a big jump from his previous role. A former JUCO player, he's responded well to the increased quality of play, thought he's also seen his fair share of penalties in limited time on the line. Ultimately, a holding call's inevitable if you're protecting the quarterback well. He'll be instrumental in giving Eric Dungey enough time to throw this fall.
Jamar McGloster, (Redshirt) Junior
At 6-foot-7 and 328 pounds, McGloster's one of the roster's larger players on the roster. He'll need that size given the quality of defensive lines Syracuse goes up against this year. It'll also assist him in making up for a lack of experience this far. McGloster is one of three new starters on the line (he's only played in six games before this), and it'll be interesting to see how and he the other newcomers adjust to the jump. He's a potential left tackle candidate next year, but that depends on his 2016 performance too.
Cody Conway, Sophomore
Like a lot of the other linemen, Conway's already started to drop a little weight to keep up with the proposed speed of Dino Babers's offense. One of the members of the exciting 2015 O-line class, he was the only one of the five to get immediate playing time last year -- something that should help him take on an increased role this year. The current depth chart's fluid, so we'll see if he stays as a reserve left tackle. There's an outside chance Conway's starting come September.
Evan Adams, (Redshirt) Freshman
Adams has similar size to McGloster (6-foot-6, 333 pounds), and that'll do him a ton of good as he's likely thrown into the fire early and often this season. With the speed of the offensive scheme, starters will be relied upon, but not solely. The line will certainly be going two-deep each game to help rotate in fresh legs. Adams can gain a ton of experience this year, even as a reserve. That could set up a very big future for the imposing frosh.
Jon Burton, (Redshirt) Junior
Burton's been a special teamer for the past two seasons, which would normally be the case once again. But with the Orange cycling in more bodies at every position, there's a chance he sees some more standard play snaps as well. Like the other tackles, he brings size along with him. Scott Shafer used to say that he "bends well," so that could be useful for our purposes here.
Sam Heckel, Freshman
While Heckel was a Shafer commit, his size (6-foot-4, 279 pounds) seems to fall much more in line with what Babers is/was looking for. Never say never on the true freshmen playing, but you'd like to think all of the newcomers are going to take a redshirt this year and then be ready to go in 2017. Some players may have been in a hurry-up in high school, but it's doubtful it looked like this offense. An extra year does a world of good -- especially for tackles.
Michael Clark, Freshman
Similar to Heckel, Clark's in the weight range Babers is looking for. Not as similar, Clark has three inches on him and should be able to display some good movement at 6-foot-7. Using some of the other, taller linemen on the roster as examples, he'll be able to observe what's needed of him in those players. He'll likely redshirt, but again, not a bad thing as it could yield a better outcome later on for him and SU's O-line.
Liam O'Sullivan, Freshman
Syracuse has amassed quite the collection of Illinois (Chicago, specifically) products on the O-line, and O'Sullivan is teh latest name added to the list. He's a potential candidate to switch to guard, perhaps. But since he was a tackle in high school, we'll slot him here for now. Size is pretty much the same as the other young players on the line, if you hadn't gotten a read on what Babers is looking for yet. He's highly likely to redshirt, barring catastrophic injuries.
Aaron Roberts, (Redshirt) Sophomore
Roberts was pushing for a potential starting gig last summer. And while he ultimately failed to win the role, he caught the attention of the old coaching staff. Now it seems he's been noticed by the new staff as well, since he's slated to start. At 280 pounds, he can be a bit more agile at the guard spot while not sacrificing as much as he would at tackle with a lack of speed. Hopefully his minimal previous experience (three games) helps in the season's early days.
Omari Palmer, (Redshirt) Senior
Palmer brings more experience with him than every other linemen combined. His 21 starts to-date are a welcome veteran presence in a very young group, and he'll be part of a very strong interior, especially to the right side. Rob Trudo left some very large shoes to fill here after a successful career. Now Palmer will get a turn to write his own legacy as he ushers in this new, faster era of offensive line play.
A.J. Duerig, (Redshirt) Freshman
Duerig is slimming down a bit, but still has quite a few pounds on Roberts, the starter over on the left. If he can show some agility at the higher weight, then the number won't matter much to the staff in the big scheme. After redshirting last season, Duerig's going to get tossed right into the fire in 2016 along with the rest of the active offensive line rotation. With a current logjam at center (his more natural position), guard's also a great way to keep him involved this year so he's ready later on.
Colin Byrne, (Redshirt) Freshman
As a St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida) product, Byrne was put to the test a bit in high school. But at this point, that was also two years ago. Byrne, like the rest of the 2015 linemen, is slimming down and getting ready for his moment to earn some playing time this year. While Palmer's a workhorse starting at right guard, Byrne will see time and get himself more acclimated as the year goes on in prep for 2017.
Samuel Clausman, (Redshirt) Freshman
Byrne's STA pal Clausman may also be ready to jump into a larger role this fall. The question will be whether or not he can continue to drop some weight in the lead-up to 2016, however. Right now, he's slotted in third at left guard, meaning snaps could be slim for this year. He could move up if Clausman shifts back to center. Future-wise, his movement and playing time is worth keeping an eye on.
Keaton Darney, (Redshirt) Sophomore
Darney's a walk-on, but that won't matter much to Babers if he shows his slimmer build (6-foot-4, 276 pounds) compared to his cohorts is effective in the guard role. In year three at SU, he's yet to see the field at all, which could change in an instant should injuries strike. In the meantime, you may be seeing more of him on special teams to start gaining some in-game experience.
Airon Servais, Freshman
Though Servais played tackle in high school, his elevated weight from National Signing Day to today (plus-31 pounds) would seem to indicate the coaching staff is setting him up to play guard down the road. His 6-foot-6 frame can take a bit more of that on, which the strength & conditioning team will be fine with so long as it doesn't hurt his speed. Servais is another freshman that's highly likely to redshirt this fall.
Jason Emerich, (Redshirt) Senior
Along with Palmer, Emerich makes for the only other returning starter on the offensive line. He's also a big reason why the right interior line should be so good, and help allay some concerns on youth and inexperience elsewhere. As you may have noticed, the senior has been mentioned in several awards conversations already, which hopefully bodes well for his success and SU's in 2016.
Taylor Hindy, Senior
Hindy really hasn't seen a ton of action since transferring from Washington to Syracuse, but there's potential that could change in his final year. Of course, Emerich is entrenched in the starting center role, but as mentioned at least a few times, there's going to be some rotation at nearly every position. If Hindy can give even five snaps per game, it could mean a big difference for how Emerich holds up this year.
Donnie Foster, (Redshirt) Sophomore
Foster likely gives way to Clausman (listed behind him on the center depth chart) if his services were truly needed. But this still presents potential playing time should injuries spring up on the team, as they unfortunately have the past couple years. There's some potential for more regular playing time down the road. For now, however, special teams are the ceiling, barring injury.
Syracuse's offensive line lacks a ton of experience, but makes up for it with plenty of depth. Every spot's at least three-deep here and there's easy-to-spot groundwork from the previous regime for a promising class of 2015 to come of age as a group. Still, Babers and staff will continue to recruit players more naturally tailored for the system (see: the large collection of incoming offensive tackles for 2016). If there's one position you don't have to be concerned about for the Orange, it's this one. It's a weird, though welcome feeling.
Anything else on the O-line? Share any and all thoughts below.