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Syracuse football: A look at potential transfer targets

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With one transfer already committed, let’s take a look at some other possible targets

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame
Coming off a one-win season, Dino Babers will likely look for more transfers heading into 2021.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With the news that four-star Mississippi State quarterback Garrett Shrader will transfer to Syracuse, TNIAAM took a look at other names in the transfer portal with at least light connections to SU. It will be (and already has been) a busy offseason for Dino Babers and his staff considering they are coming off a 1-10 season, the first one-win season for the Orange since 2005. But they’re not done yet.

All the players below are either New York natives or received offers from Syracuse coming out of high school. This isn’t exhaustive by any means. But it’s an early look at who could be out there for SU with a handful of scholarships available.

Running Backs

We don’t know what’s going on with Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams right now. But even if neither player returns, Sean Tucker, Jawhar Jordan, Cooper Lutz and newcomer Josh Hough are all in the door already. As we saw this past season, the position can always use some depth, though.

Christian Turner - Michigan

Turner was a three-star that Syracuse recruited in the class of 2018. In three years at Michigan he ran for 270 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He failed to get any touches this season, only appearing in one game on the Wolverines’ special teams unit.

Chris Curry - LSU

A 5-11, 200 pound back from Florida, Curry ran for three years at LSU. In 2020 he had 45 carries for 145 yards, good for three yards a carry, but didn’t score any touchdowns during his time in Baton Rouge.

Wide Receivers

Arguably Babers’s best transfer came at the receiver position when Amba Etta-Tawo transferred to SU for one season in 2016. In order for Shrader or Tommy DeVito to find some success next season, a big-play receiver will either need to develop from within the program or be found in the portal.

Ricky Smalling - Illinois

Lovie Smith and Illinois snagged the in-state Smalling in 2017, making him Smith’s first verbal commit. Smalling led the Illini in receiving yards as a freshman, and followed that up by leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 2018. His 2019 campaign ended early with an injury, and Smalling announced he would leave the program this past July. He’s not necessarily a huge target at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, but he’s definitely a talent.

Jaylen Dixon - Utah

Dixon got an offer from Syracuse in 2017, and had a solid career for the Utes. Dixon played 14 games in 2018 and 2019, but decided not to play this past season. The Frisco, Texas native caught 32 passes for 589 yards and two scores in 2018.

Justin Bellido - Boston College

Bellido didn’t see any action for the Eagles in 2020 as a freshman, but the Brooklyn native got an offer from Babers and could find himself looking to play a little closer to him for the rest of his career. He was a top ten recruit coming out of New York in the class of 2020.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line

The O-line has been a serious eyesore for the Orange the past two years and is certainly a position of need. These three former SU recruits could help Sterlin Gilbert’s offense out big-time.

Marcus Minor - Maryland

Minor was a strong in-state pickup for the Terrapins in 2017 when he committed over a handful of schools including Auburn, Florida and Syracuse. In College Park he played both guard and tackle, starting in 16 games over two years. He was the 16th best offensive guard prospect in his class. Along with Minor, fellow Terps (both with previous Orange offers) Tyran Hunt and Johnny Jordan are also in the portal. Jordan was a starter this past year and also started games in both 2018 and 2019.

Bryan Hudson - Virginia Tech

Another four-star recruit on the line, Hudson made 10 starts at center in 2019 for the Hokies. Along with Syracuse, he had offers from Alabama, Ohio State and in-state Kentucky, who reportedly is already trending as a favorite.

Zach Carpenter - Michigan

A three-star 2019 recruit from Cincinnati, Carpenter appeared in five games as a sophomore in 2020. He came out of high school as a guard but made his first collegiate start at Rutgers at center in November.

Defensive Live

Babers and his staff have pumped out some quality NFL prospects on the D-line including Alton Robinson, Kendall Coleman and Chris Slayton since arriving in 2016. Even with Josh Black and Kingsley Jonathan announcing they will return for next year, SU could benefit from a boost at the front part of their 3-3-5 defense.

Lamonte McDougle - Washington State

The six-foot, 291 pound defensive tackle transferred to Washington State from West Virginia after his freshman All-American 2017 season. He played in all 13 games for the Cougars in 2019, notching 14 tackles and one recovered fumble.

Kyiev Bennermon - Boston College (update: since announced he’s heading to NC A&T)

Another NY state guy from BC, Bennermon entered the transfer portal in September after a productive 2019 season as a redshirt freshman. The Poughkeepsie native played in nine games, making 11 tackles, including a tackle for loss in a whooping in the Carrier Dome. Bennermon was the top D-line prospect from the Empire State in the 2018 class.

Tennessee v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Linebackers

The linebacking corps last season for the Orange was very thin and very young. All three starters, along with their backups, are expected to return for 2021. That being said, Babers and Tony White should be on the lookout for another LB to bolster the group.

Kivon Bennett - Tennessee

A Hollywood, Florida native, Bennett had a strong 2019 season, when he tallied 7.5 tackles for loss, good for best on UT and tied for second in the SEC. In 2020, Bennett accounted for 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks, tied for fifth-best in his league.

C.J. Hart Jr. - NC State

In his second year in Raleigh, Hart notched 17 total tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. As part of a young linebacker group, Hart saw a solid number of snaps as a sophomore, but is looking for a new destination for his junior season and beyond.

Defensive Backs

Originally thought of as one of the most experienced position group on the team, by the end of 2020, SU was starting four young freshmen in the secondary. Andre Cisco, Trill Williams and Ifeatu Melifonwu have all declared for the NFL Draft, and the area could use some experience next season.

Antwaine Richardson - Maryland

The main thing Richardson brings to the table is experience. He played four seasons for the Terps beginning in 2016 — redshirting in 2019 due to a preseason injury — and will have just a year left of eligibility. He notched a career-high nine tackles at Indiana on Nov. 28, and has 87 total career tackles.

Nico Bolden - New Mexico

A three-star coming out of high school from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bolden played in 21 games over two years from 2018-2019. In his redshirt sophomore season in 2019, he recorded 16 tackles, with one for loss. This year he added 25 tackles, along with three forced fumbles.

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There are plenty more targets that aren’t listed above, but this is at least an initial look at some guys who could be on the Orange’s radar.