clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse football All-21st-Century Team: Wide Receivers, Fullbacks & Tight Ends

Continuing the exercise in creating a depth chart for the last twenty years of Syracuse football.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 Syracuse at LSU Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re forging on in this series to the wide receivers, fullback and tight end.

Wide Receiver Nominees (listed chronologically):

  • David Tyree (1999-2002)
  • Johnnie Morant (2000-2003)
  • Jared Jones (2001-2004)
  • Mike Williams (2006-2009)
  • Taj Smith (2006-2007)
  • Alec Lemon (2009-2012)
  • Jarrod West (2010-2014)
  • Brisly Estime (2013-2016)
  • Steve Ishmael (2014-2017)
  • Ervin Philips (2014-2017)
  • Jamal Custis (2014-2018)
  • Amba Etta-Tawo (2016)

The wideout options over the years were definitely nothing to discount as lacking. There’s a good number of NFL names on that sheet, as well as plenty who did a lot for the Syracuse Orange and didn’t make the next level. Even in down years, there has been a good amount of pass-catching talent on the roster.

David Tyree

While Tyree is best known for his helmet catch to help win Super Bowl XLII, he had quite the prolific career prior, suiting up for the Orange. He finished his career as #13 on the career receiving charts with 1,214 yards. He averated 16.2 yards per catch over his career, with 75 receptions and 6 touchdowns. While at Syracuse, he was a special teams standout and also a two year track letterwinner.

Mike Williams

Probably the most athletically talented wide receiver that the Orange had over this time frame, Williams made it look easy when he was out there. Emphasis on when he was out there. Through his sophomore season in 2007, he has led the team in receiving yards as a freshman, was an All-Big East second team selection, tied the Syracuse receptions in a season record with 60, had a streak of nine straight games with a touchdown and was sixth on the all time receiving touchdown list. He sat out 2008 for off the field issues, came back in 2009 to post 746 yards and six touchdowns in seven games, and then quit the team. He finished his career with 20 touchdowns, 2,044 yards.

Alec Lemon

Lemon was a four year letterwinner and still holds the career reception mark with 201 catches. He also had the third and fourth best single season marks, only surpassed by the products of the Babers offense. He marks second in all time receiving yards (2,596), only behind the great Marvin Harrison and went over 1,000 yards for only the third time in Syracuse history with 1,070 in 2012. His 18 touchdowns places him fourth in the all time list. He was an All-Big East Freshman selection in 2009, second teamer in 2011 and first teamer in 2012.

Jarrod West

Four letters at Syracuse led to West finishing his career in seventh place for all time receiving yards with 1,836 and fifth in receptions with 134. For better or worse, he ended his career under the Scott Shafer regime, which wasn’t known for it’s offensive prowess. He was still able to put up solid numbers and complete a quite successful career in Orange, while being part of two bowl victories. Not too many Orange athletes can say that in recent history.

Steve Ishmael

The current member of the Indianapolis Colts and all time receiving leader for the Orange ended his career as one of the most decorated wide receivers in Syracuse history. His senior campaign Ishmael was a unanimous first team All-ACC selection and named to nine different All-America squads. That season he put up the second best single season receiving yard total in Syracuse history with 1,347 for 112.2 yards per contest. He also finished with seven touchdowns. His 2,891 yards on 219 receptions broke the long standing record for a career, set by Marvin Harrison.

Ervin Phillips

Two time All-ACC selection, and a jack of all trades, Erv set the mark for receptions in a career with 223 over his four years. He finished in the top ten for career yardage (7th - 2,069) and touchdowns (9th - 15). He also had 522 career rushing yards on 103 carries and another 5 touchdowns. Besides Philips, only Art Monk and Qadry Ismail finished with 1,000+ receiving and 400+ rushing yards. He was part of two of the most potent wide receiver corps in Syracuse history, in 2016 and 2017. He finished his career holding the single game record with 17 receptions in a game. that is also the ACC record.

Amba Etta-Tawo

Etta-Tawo may only have played one season in Orange, but he made it a memorable one. The grad-transfer from Maryland set ten receiving records in his single season and was named to four All-American teams. He was also an All-ACC selection and a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. He set single season marks in receptions (94), receiving yards (1,482), touchdowns (14), and yards per game (123.5). He also finished with the single game marks for touchdowns (5), and yards (270).

The Depth Chart

  1. Steve Ishmael / Alec Lemon
  2. Jarrod West / Amba Etta-Tawo

The duo of Ishmael and Lemon was a unanimous decision, and it would be intriguing to see what guys like Lemon and Jarrod West would be able to do in a Dino Babers system. Until I tallied the numbers, I don’t think anyone realized all of the accolades that Erv Philips put up and definitely deserves a flex nod. As a true wide receiver, he may not have been better than the rest, but he definitively deserves the honorable mention in a utility role.

Wide Receiver Voting Breakdown

Rank Steve John Kevin
Rank Steve John Kevin
1 Steve Ishmael Steve Ishmael Steve Ishmael
2 Alec Lemon Alec Lemon Alec Lemon
3 Jarrod West Ervin Phillips David Tyree
4 Amba Etta-Tawo Jarrod West Amba Etta-Tawo
HM Mike Williams Amba Etta-Tawo Johnnie Morant

Fullback Nominees:

  • Kyle Johnson (1997-2001)
  • Tony Fiammetta (2005-2008)
  • Adam Harris (2009-2011)

For a position that we effectively didn’t use for a good stretch, we’ve had some good ones over the years. It seems like the role is back in action with Chris Elmore on the modern roster, but the talent level of the early 2000s is a force to be reckoned with in the role.

Kyle Johnson

Johnson only had two eligible campaigns, in 2000-2001, but he made them count. He was the two time captain of the squad in 2000 and 2001, though only carrying the ball five times in 2000 prior to season ending injury. His graduate student year, he finished with 223 yards and three touchdowns on 53 carries. His career marks were 101 carries for 466 yards and ten total touchdowns.

Tony Fiammetta

An All-American in 2008, Fiammetta was drafted in the fourth round as a fullback by the Carolina Panthers. He was a captain of the 2008 team. Fiammetta never made a name for himself with statistics, but was a phenom as a blocking fullback and had a weird ability to leak out for a swing pass or delay. Overall one of the most talented fullbacks in Syracuse history.

The Depth Chart

  1. Tony Fiammetta
  2. Kyle Johnson

Again, the undisputed number one at fullback, with a unanimous vote was Tony Fiammetta. It’s hard not to place the best Syracuse fullback this side of Rob Konrad as the winner in this situation. We’ll see in the future if Rhino Elmore or someone new can crack into this two-deep, as Coach Babers seems to utilize the position more than we have in recent past, but either way, Fiammetta walks away with the honors hands down.

FB Voting Breakdown

Steve John Kevin
Steve John Kevin
Tony Fiammetta Tony Fiammetta Tony Fiammetta
Kyle Johnson -- --

Tight End Nominees:

  • Nick Provo (2007-2011)
  • Beckett Wales (2010-2013)
  • Ravian Pierce (2015-2018)
  • Josh Parris (2012-2016)

Another position that was lost, but seems found again, the tight end over this Syracuse Century has had some ups and downs.

Nick Provo

Provo completed his career as the tight end with the most receptions (92) and second most yards (1,027). His senior year, he was an All-Big East selection and completed an impressive single season, setting the tight end record for receptions (51) and finished second in yardage (537). He finished his career with nine touchdowns.

Beckett Wales

Fourth in receptions for his career, with 52, Wales played on two bowl winning teams in Orange. He finished his career with 523 yards, second in the career rankings. Wales was also part of the Marrone/Shafer teams that won back to back bowl games.

Ravian Pierce

Pierce was a stalwart on the 2017 and 2018 teams, as the primary tight end. He finished his career with seven touchdowns, 45 receptions and a total of 368 yards. The transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College made the most of his two years at Syracuse, both blocking and as a receiving option.

The Depth Chart

  1. Nick Provo
  2. Beckett Wales

As expected, Provo is the first name on the chart. Probably one of the easier ones to pencil in, his receiving prowess was rarely matched in a Syracuse history that runs deep with tight ends. The numbers may say he goes down with John Mackey and Chris Gedney as the names you think of when you think Syracuse and tight end.

TE Voting Breakdown

Steve John Kevin
Steve John Kevin
Nick Provo Nick Provo Nick Provo
Beckett Wales Beckett Wales Beckett Wales