Because that’s how this website works, much has already been made about the potential difficulty of the 2017 Syracuse Orange football schedule here. Even with an improved team come the fall, SU still has quite a hill to climb given road trips to Florida State, LSU, Louisville and Miami, plus home dates with Clemson and Pitt -- and that’s before glancing at the rest of the challenging slate.
While that all remains true, things are at least getting slightly easier (for now) given all of the underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft since the season ended.
The latest Orange foe to pass on another year of college (and a potential matchup with Syracuse) was Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya yesterday.
Given the likelihood that he’ll be selected in the first day or so this spring, it’s no surprise to see Kaaya elect to head to the pros. In 13 games this year, the junior threw for 3,532 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He had 9,968 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career at Miami.
Kaaya’s not the only notable underclassman to declare for the draft, either. Thankfully — and despite the prospect of putting up a career’s worth of yards against the Orange’s defense — several others have already declared, too. Among them:
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florid State
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
Davon GodChaux, DT, LSU
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson
DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Joseph Yearby, RB, Miami
So while that won’t guarantee wins against those teams now, it’s certainly helpful to see some of the most dreaded names on the schedule... off of it. Most of those guys will be replaced with four- and five-star talent, but that’s fine. Ignore that truth for the time being.
More names will be added to this list before the deadline to declare on January 16. So until then we’ll wait. And cross our fingers that as many talented players as possible decline to come back and face the Orange. Just a quick look at that upcoming schedule for 2017 tells us that once again, we’re going to need all of the help we can get.