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Get to Know Your Orange Man: #70, OL Enrique Cruz Jr.

Probably our starting left tackle this year. A big jump for the big man.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to start preparing for the upcoming Syracuse Orange football season. We’re going through the roster to take a look at each Syracuse player as we get ready for a critical season for the Orange.

We keep moving through the offensive line. Up next...

Name: Enrique Cruz Jr.

Position: Offensive Line

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 302 lbs.

Hometown: Chicago, Ill.

High School: Willowbrook

2022 stats: Found his way into eight games, starting the last five. He showed his versatility on either side of the line when called upon. Cruz was the next man in on the outside and filled in last season when Matthew Bergeron went down, then switched to the right side for the next three games, before deputizing Bergeron again when he opted out of the bowl game.

2023 projections: A lynchpin for this unit that has a lot of questions on it. Cruz and Kalan Ellis are the only two names in pen right now in my book. Chris Bleich would be, though with his injury history it’s tough to mark him in a guaranteed spot. Cruz will be one of the consistent hands and a leader on this line. He and Ellis shoring up that left side should give some hope to the Orange faithful that this unit can produce again this season.

How’d he get here?: A bunch of P5 offers including Arizona, Arizona State, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia.

What’d recruiting sites say?: Four stars at 247, three stars from ESPN and Rivals.

Money quote: A great quote from the guy formerly manning his new position, Matthew Bergeron in a piece highlighting the SyraCruz tailgate:

“He’s got all the tools to be one of the best linemen in this conference,” Bergeron said. “He gotta figure out a few things, but he got all the tools. I think this year he’s gonna be a little bit in the rotation, getting some reps, so down the stretch I think he’ll be a starter for Syracuse for sure.”

Twitter feed: @Enriquecruzz1

Tweets of wonder: He came in all clean cut, but you had to know he’s working on rocking the lineman flow.

Interesting nugget o’interest: Cruz was one of the first Syracuse players to ink an NIL deal last season, with the advent of the SyraCruz tailgate (more info here), mentioned above, which was an NIL opportunity for both he and fellow Chicagoan Chris Elmore.

Let’s get a look at ya: Good to see the coaches also embracing the “Syracruz” nickname.