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Syracuse football: seven players selected to preseason Athlon All-ACC teams

Upside is sprinkled all over the Orange roster.

Notre Dame v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

We’re still months away from the start of the Syracuse Orange football season, but it’s never too early for preseason player predictions. Rosters around the ACC may not be finalized yet, but that didn’t stop Athlon from releasing its four-team all-ACC squads on Monday.

Syracuse received eight selections across the four teams (Trebor Pena appears twice), which was just below the conference average. Check out the number of nominees for all ACC schools:

For Syracuse, here are the players selected by team:

First Team

  • Oronde Gadsden II (TE)

Second Team

  • Marlowe Wax (LB)

Third Team

  • Caleb Okechukwu (DL)
  • Trebor Pena (PR)

Fourth Team

  • LeQuint Allen (RB)
  • Stefon Thompson (LB)
  • Justin Barron (S)
  • Trebor Pena (KR)

In his first season at the tight end position, Gadsden hauled in 61 receptions for 969 yards in 2022, the most by an Orange tight end in a season ever. He led the entire country in receiving yards at the position and finished sixth in the ACC when grouped with all wide receivers. With Garrett Shrader back under center, the sky’s the limit for the junior, whose father played in the NFL.

Wax led the Orange in tackles and started all 13 games in his sophomore year. Okechukwu finished with the most sacks and forced fumbles on the team, while Barron finished with a career-high 65 tackles. Pena earned third-team honors as a punt returner and fourth-team as a kick returner after finishing second and fourth in punt and kick return yards in the ACC, respectively.


What’s most surprising/promising are the selections of Allen and Thompson on the fourth team. Backing up Sean Tucker, Allen looked sharp in limited touches, amassing 41 carries for an average of 6.6 yards. In Tucker’s absence, he gashed a stout Minnesota defense with 94 yards on 15 carries in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. It’ll be exciting to see how the sophomore grows into the main tailback role for the Orange this time around.

Despite missing almost all of last season, Thompson still earned a fourth-team nomination. The linebacker suffered a season-ending injury in SU’s opener against Louisville, recording three tackles before going down. Athlon expects Thompson to return to his prior form in 2021, where he started all 12 games, finished second on the team in tackles and notched six sacks. There’s still no official word on his health, however, head coach Dino Babers expects Thompson to be good to go for the season-opener against Colgate on Sept. 2.

What do you think about these teams? Anything you’d change?