This season was supposed to be the one where Adrian Flemming finally had a big year. Replacing Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales was no easy feat, but Flemming was healthy and ready to realize the talent he has flashed during practice over the last few seasons.
After a lackluster week one, partially due to the quarterback situation, Flemming suffered another season ending injury. The Orange were in a bind. With a receiver group that already had huge question marks, they had lost one of their most talented players.
In steps the undersized junior college transfer Chris Clark who has not only replaced Flemming's expected production, but has exceeded it to become arguably Syracuse's most reliable target over the last three weeks.
"That (being undersized) is my motivation," Clark said. "I know I'm not the biggest guy. I just go out there and make plays and try to do what I can do."
After a six catch, 66-yard performance against Northwester, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound receiver has three touchdowns in the last two weeks. He has added eight catches for 113 yards over that span as well.
From forgotten man to being second on the team in both receptions and yards, and leading the team in touchdown catches.
"He made something happen," quarterback Terrel Hunt said. "He's a great player and very fast. It helps that he's smaller because they don't really see him."
Clark has flashed the ability to be a deep threat and a reliable possession receiver. On his touchdown against Tulane, Clark ran right by the corner and took a sharp cut towards the middle, which had been vacated by the safety. Hunt put the ball on the money and Clark walked into the endzone.
The play was similar to the week prior when Clark had a 41-yard touchdown against Wagner. He ran by the corner who had him in coverage, and ran to the area vacated by the safety for an easy pitch and catch.
But beyond Clark's big play ability is the improvement he has made on shorter routes to become a reliable target all over the field. He hauls in passes in the flat and is able to use his speed and elusiveness to gain yards after the catch. Clark ran a beautiful drag route against Tulane where he ran by his defender. Hunt found him wide open over the middle and Clark was able to scamper for a first down.
For a Syracuse offense that was desperate for playmakers after the loss to Northwestern, Clark has teamed with Terrel Hunt to give the Orange a much needed jolt. As Syracuse enters ACC play, Clark has stepped up at the perfect time.