There’s plenty to get sorted out this spring, and position changes could also occur. But based on the 78 scholarship players (so far) that are set to be on the roster come next summer, here’s how things could sort out:
Quarterback: Eric Dungey (Sr.) | Tommy DeVito (R-Fr.)
As long as Dungey’s healthy, it’s his job in his final season. While he’s yet to complete a full season in three years as Syracuse’s QB, he’s already set a ton of records and has his sights set on quite a few more. DeVito’s the future, but that might need to wait one more year.
Running back: Moe Neal (Jr.) | Markenzy Pierre (So.)
The talk going into 2017 was that Neal would switch to a hybrid/wide receiver role. But after he finished the season running really well in Dontae Strickland’s absence, I’d bet that Neal ends up getting the nod at running back, spelled by the bigger Pierre. Neal will still be used plenty in the passing game as well.
Outside receiver 1: Devin Butler (Jr.) | Russell Thompson-Bishop (R-Fr.)
Outside receiver 2: Jamal Custis (R-Sr.) | Cameron Jordan (R-Fr.)
Inside receiver 1: Sean Riley (Jr.) | Sharod Johnson (R-Fr.)
Inside receiver 2: Dontae Strickland (Sr.) | Nykeim Johnson (So.)
This is an interesting group, obviously, given the second straight year of turnover at wideout and a major influx of (fast) youth. There’s a lot of upside on the second line at all four receiver spots, but the more experienced starting options probably get deference for the time being. Keep in mind Strickland may ultimately end up back at running back too. Don’t be surprised if receiver gets more of a by-committee effort than the last couple seasons (leading to better overall numbers, but no individual standout campaign).
Tight end: Ravian Pierce (Sr.) | Chris Elmore (So.)
The Elmore experiment didn’t necessarily work as planned, so I’d assume we end up seeing him back on the defensive side of the ball in the next season or two. But for now, he’s likely to be backing up Pierce in this flex tight end/fullback role. Pierce could be pretty dynamic as one of the offense’s lone proven entities in 2018.
Left tackle: Cody Conway (Sr.) | Patrick Davis (So.)
Left guard: Aaron Roberts (R-Sr.) | Sam Heckel (R-So.)
Center: Airon Servais (R-So.) | Dakota Davis (R-Fr.)
Right guard: Evan Adams (R-Jr.) | Colin Byrne (R-Jr.)
Right tackle: Liam O’Sullivan (R-So.) | Mike Clark (R-So.)
Despite losing Jamar McGloster, SU still returns six different players with starting experience — including Roberts, who missed the entire 2017 season. Given the fact that this group improved as the season wore on, it’s worth being a little optimistic that we could see big steps forward for a healthy line next year. These five are likely entrenched already. The names on those second lines (aside from Clark) could get shuffled around a bit, however.
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