Several Junior College players and transfers joined the incoming class of Syracuse freshmen to make up the class of 2012. As a collective group, this class may be further along in their development than previous Doug Marrone classes.
The buzz around certain transfers (Quinta Funderburk, John Raymon, Chris Clark) and incoming freshmen (Ron Thompson, Wayne Morgan, Ashton Broyld) have given Syracuse fans plenty to look forward to. Just three days in, they appear to be adjusting well.
"They've told me they love it (camp)," head coach Doug Marrone said. "They enjoy it, they're excited. So they have not given me any indication of any discomfort at all. They're excited and they want to get going. They want to go out there and compete. I've spoken to all of them and they want a position on this team. That's what you're looking for out of those young kids."
Marrone specifically has spent time with the tight-ends during the period open to the media. He spent a lot of time instructing Ron Thompson in an attempt to develop his blocking skills. Zian Jones has gotten a lot of instruction as well, but hasn't looked overwhelmed. Quinta Funderburk has looked the part as well (though he will be sitting out the 2012 season). His route running appears to be solid, and he can fly down the field. John Raymon has looked physically imposing and ready to contribute. Markus Pierce-Brewster is extremely athletic and quick as an edge rusher. He has looked to be maybe the most athletic defensive lineman in camp. DeVante McFarlane appears to be adjusting well to his new position (safety).
These players have a long way to go, as do the veterans. But it is encouraging to see them going through drills and practice without being lost or overwhelmed. The contributions of these players this season could be huge for Syracuse special teams to take a step forward, to improve the depth of the team as a whole, and create some explosive plays on offense.
Ashton Broyld has looked ready to contribute. He may have the quickest feet of any of the running backs. His versatility could allow the Orange to add a dimension to the offense they have not had in a long, long time.
There are several other candidates to make an impact on the 2012 season as well. Wayne Morgan could provide special teams help and depth in the secondary. Omari Palmer provides depth on the offensive line and could compete for playing time. Alvin Cornelius and Ben Lewis have looked solid in camp.
Coach Marrone has been encouraged with their progress thus far.
"On the field, they have a lot of work to do. But it's not too big. What I mean by that is, at every level when you bring a player on, you hear that in recruiting and you talk about it. You look at them in the eye. Then when you go out on the field, sometimes when there's a shock and awe type of effect of ‘oh gosh this game is so fast' or much faster than it was in high school, then it takes a little bit longer time to develop that player. But when they're on that field saying, ‘oh let's go coach, this is fine I'm ready to go' then they have a chance. And all of the players I've spoken to don't feel it's too fast for them right now."