Over on the treasure trove of internet content known as Reddit, they asked a simple question last week:
If you could add one former player in their college football prime to your team’s roster this year, who would it be? Why?
No team is perfect, so yeah, it would always be great to add that star running back to a squad with something lacking in their run game. Or an All-American defender for a team that may need a little more push in its pass rush.
For a team like the Syracuse Orange, which has a number of trouble spots and a tough schedule to exacerbate them, it gets even more difficult to pinpoint exactly which former player would help the most. First, what are the biggest positions of need for the 2017 teams?
I’d likely narrow that list down to running back, offensive line, defensive end or cornerback. But obviously, you could get greedy and start just picking up great players at positions we’re already set at too. For the purposes of this exercise, though, I’m focusing in on need.
With those needs in mind, some of the obvious players worth adding to this year’s SU roster:
Dwight Freeney, DE (1998-2001)
“Duh.” This Syracuse team is not all that adept at rushing the passer, so of course a game-changing defensive end like Freeney would be a welcome addition. The All-American tallied 34 sacks in his career -- including 17.5 in his senior year alone. He set an FBS record for forced fumbles and recoveries in one season, with 11 in 2001. The ability to not only generate pressure but turn the ball over could be all the Orange need this year to make a bowl game.
Kevin Abrams, CB (1993-96)
Abrams broke up a whopping total of 55 passes in his career, and nabbed six interceptions during a standout 1995 season. Of all the players who’ve manned the cornerback position for us before or since, he’s collected more honors than most (two straight All-America nods to end his SU career). That would be huge toward putting a stop to the deluge of passing yards racked up against this Orange defense.
John Flannery, C (1987-90)
At 6-foot-4 and over 300 pounds, Flannery could move people -- a skill that would certainly come in handy for Syracuse this year in both run and pass blocking. Who knows if Flannery’s size would’ve held up to the rigors and speed of this offense. But if you have the option to plug in an All-American into the center of your line, I think you do it.
Larry Csonka, RB (1965-67)
Want a goal line option? Csonka accounted for nearly 3,000 rushing yards and 19 scores on the ground (plus another two passing) in three years with Syracuse. The ability to rumble into the end zone is one that’s a struggle for Syracuse since 2012’s tank package departed us (you were too good for this world...). A dependable runner like Csonka would be a tough change of pace to gameplan for against this high-speed Orange offense.
Obligatory: Floyd Little, Ernie Davis, Jim Brown
Figured these three didn’t really need to be quantified here. You know exactly what you’re getting from all of them, and they’d instantly improve any team -- even one with a current five-star running back.
Obviously a ton of other players you could plug in here, so this list is far from exhaustive. But which former Orange(men) player would you add?
(H/T once again to r/CFB)