With spring practice just days away (March 4), the Syracuse Orange football program recently issued a roster update. Now, we see where those players start slotting in with Thursday’s updated depth chart within this year’s spring prospectus (PDF).
Stephen Bailey tweeted out a full view of the depth chart, but we’ll break down the notable changes below.
Syracuse’s spring depth chart has so much going on, I’m not even sure where to start... pic.twitter.com/MkhM6cm0dO— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) March 1, 2018
Offensive depth chart changes:
- Tommy DeVito is your No. 2 quarterback, as most expected, jumping Rex Culpepper in line.
- Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal receive the “OR” designation at running back, likely dependent on whether or not Neal can block and identify defenses as well as Strick can.
- Your starting outside wide receivers (for now) are Devin Butler and Jamal Custis. That’s no surprise.
- But the starting inside receivers are Nykiem Johnson and Antwan Cordy (?!), which should definitely shock. They’re backed up by Sean Riley and Russell Thompson-Bishop. Expect more shuffling there.
- Sam Heckel moves up to the starting right guard spot for now, with Evan Adams still coming back from injury.
- Mike Clark is your new starting right tackle, taking over for Jamar McGloster, who graduated.
Defensive depth chart changes:
- Kendall Coleman and Brandon Berry are returning from injury, so they’re not on the current depth chart. Same goes for Josh Black, you’d think, given the time he missed last year.
- Chris Elmore is at nose tackle here, where he’ll be much more helpful in spring practice, if not beyond.
- Andrew Armstrong and Kielan Whitner are your starting outside linebackers, while Ryan Guthrie is in the middle. Those names are the ones we expected, but would’ve thought that Armstrong and Guthrie were switched.
- True freshman Andre Cisco gets the starting free safety nod for now, and surprisingly, Tyrone Perkins is your back-up strong safety.
- Ifeatu Melifonwu is a second-string corner, which is expected. However, it’s either encouraging or worrying to see recently-switched running back Allen Stritzinger as a back-up there as well.
Special teams depth chart changes:
- Walk-on Nolan Cooney gets the nod for kickoff duty.
- Sterling Hofrichter is likely both your starting kicker and punter, as predicted.
- Sean Riley will handle returns for both punts and kicks.
- Nolan Cooney’s your holder, with Rex backing him up.
So... that’s a pretty wacky depth chart, admittedly. Some of these changes are due to injury. And others -- Cordy, Perkins -- are likely pure experimentation. Still, it seems like experience doesn’t necessarily get the benefit of the doubt for Dino Babers this spring. After two straight injury-riddled 4-8 seasons, he’s looking for the best combination to both win games and get through the year healthy.
Where your eyes should be, for now, is on the wide receivers, defensive line and secondary. Those groups showed the most shifts and will have the most questions on them this spring. While wideouts and defensive backs both bring additional reinforcements this summer with the rest of the 2018 class, the line’s pretty set already, save the injured players coming back. Spring should be a good opportunity for a lot of these younger players at every position to work in more reps with the first- and second-teams, even if they end up playing limited snaps come the fall.
Anything else spark some thoughts while glancing at the depth chart on your end? Share your own thoughts below.