Training camp at Syracuse is just one week in, but there are already some things we can take away. Several players have stood out during the media portion of practice as the Orange look towards the season opener.
The best player in camp so far has been true freshman defensive end Isaiah Johnson. Showing a veteran savvy, Johnson has been impressive both in drills and in live action. Throughout camp, Johnson has received praise from Tim Daoust as one of the better performers. Entering the fall, the true freshman was buried on the depth chart. Now, he is splitting his time between the twos and the threes. He is still looking to push even further up the list, but he has been a pleasant surprise. Going forward, Johnson must work on his speed around the edge. He has strength, has picked up the playbook, is strong in his technique, and has shown good footwork. A redshirt year is looking less and less likely.
Knapp is more and more impressive each day. He moves extremely well, and maybe the best of any of the lineman. Knapp and Hickey are the two best tackles on the team. While the staff prefers Knapp stay focused on the left tackle spot, he is too good to keep off the field. Especially with the big question mark at right tackle. We will see how the staff goes forward with him, but Knapp has been strong throughout drills as well. When he works with the second team during live action, he has been very strong.
The pick-six Arciniega had off of Drew Allen was a shining example of his growing comfort with the playbook. The JUCO transfer has been flying all over the field as he plays more on instinct rather than thinking too much. While Spruill is entrenched as the starting middle linebacker, Arciniega has been impressive during camp. He is a big, thick body and can really move. He has the strength to mix it up inside and the ability to get to the outside.
The talented sophomore has been utilized in a variety of roles. As a true cover corner, a safety, and a blitzer off the edge. Whigham is long, rangy, and has good ball skills. Those skills have been showcased during blitzing drills, back pedaling drills, and live action. While he isn't likely to start, he is making a big push for playing time. He could have a breakout year in 2013.
Jones has come into camp with his usual huge frame, but has added some quickness to his game. In defensive line drills, he comes out of his stance faster than last season. He moves better and seems to be more comfortable with both camp and the playbook. Look for Jones to be a valuable part of the defensive tackle rotation this season.
DeVante McFarlane: He deserves a mention simply for his tremendous run on Friday during Fan Fest. The redshirt freshman ran off tackle, cut up field, broke a few tackles, and turned on the jets for a 75-yard touchdown. It was the best play of Fan Fest and it wasn't even close.
Adonis Ameen-Moore: While I don't like his prospects of getting significant playing time, Ameen-Moore has shown significant improvement from last season. He appears quicker and lighter on his feet. His cuts are more crisp and he appears to be more nimble as well. He still may only see the field in short yardage situations or mop-up duty, but he has clearly worked on his craft.