Post-Spring Position Grades

CuseNation.com grades each offensive and defensive position on the Syracuse football roster after what we learned during spring ball.

Quarterbacks: C+ Terrel Hunt came back from injury to add a much needed sure fire starter to the group. Despite that, he was inconsistent at times and the depth behind him remains a question mark. If Hunt gets hurt again, it could spell trouble for the rest of the season. This has the potential to be a higher number, but consistency has to be seen from Hunt and more has to be displayed during games from Austin Wilson and A.J. Long.

Running Backs: D Both George Morris and DeVante McFarlane have shown flashes in previous years, but neither stepped up and took control of the job in the spring. That was a disappointment. Combine that with Ervin Philips, arguably their most talented running back, moving to the h-back/wide receiver position, and there is some concern here. Reinforcements are coming, however, in Jordan Fredericks and Dontae Strickland, but can true freshmen be counted on to contribute?

Wide Receivers: B+ Steve Ishmael remains the clear-cut number one receiver after a strong freshman campaign. He was very good this spring. Alvin Cornelius emerged as the favorite to start on the opposite side of the field with a spring that left multiple coaches praising his abilities. Jamal Custis and Adly Enoicy have also stepped up and shown improvement. Ervin Philips gives Syracuse a dynamic playmaker in the slot. If Brisly Estime can stay healthy and Ashton Broyld steps up a bit, this could be a very solid and deep unit for the Orange.

Tight Ends: C Josh Parris is a solid tight end but he is not a game changer. Trey Dunkelberger was expected to emerge as one of the go-to guys at the position, but he struggled with blocking during the spring. Cameron MacPherson has emerged, but that does not speak well to guys like P.J. Batten and others. If Dunkelberger can get his blocking in order, this group has potential. If not, it could be another year where the tight end position is not a consistent threat in the passing game.

Offensive Line: C Ivan Foy struggled with his transition to the left tackle spot. The center position suffered injuries and had undersized Kendal Moore as the main guy for stretches during spring practice. Rob Trudo has done well with his transition and he is a known quantity. Trudo is probably the best lineman on the roster. Omari Palmer is an adequate right tackle but is a natural guard. The tackle positions are question marks at both the starting sports and the depth behind them. The lack of emergence from Denzel Ward is disappointing. The main bright spot is Aaron Roberts snagging one of the starting guard spots. The redshirt freshman could end up being a four-year starter and has a lot of upside. But there are significant questions with this unit and few questions were answered during the spring.

Defensive Line: B+ Ron Thompson emerged as one of the leaders of the defense and arguably their most talented player. He has moved back to the outside and is expected to be a big time pass rushing threat. Kayton Samuels became one of the starters at defensive tackle and Donnie Simmons did some good things at the other end spot. Wayne Williams and Chris Slayton provide some depth, but there is a lot of depth lacking with Syracuse losing Ryan Sloan, Isaiah Johnson, Jalen Harvey and others to injury, transfer or other reasons. Freshmen will be counted on to add depth at both end and tackle. But the top six guys had a strong spring.

Linebackers: A Zaire Franklin is an emerging star. Marqez Hodge is a former starter at middle linebacker who is transitioning to the outside. The staff loves his ability to read, react and hit. Parris Bennett and Jonathan Thomas are starting to emerge as options on the outside. Senior Oliver Vigille had a strong spring and provides some nice depth. Colton Moskal is a very strong backup to Franklin in the middle. All-in-all, this unit is deep, talented, young and athletic. Even with the loss of Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis, the linebackers remain a big strength for the Orange defense.

Cornerbacks: B- Wayne Morgan and Julian Whigham are experienced starters at corner. Corey Winfield provides depth. He started to come on towards the end of last season and had a solid spring. He is still transitioning from wide receiver, but has a lot of upside with his length. Cordell Hudson got on the field a little bit last season and may emerge as the dime corner as a true sophomore. Juwan Dowels is also waiting in the wings. There is depth here, and Syracuse will add more with the incoming class, but there are still question marks. They had a solid spring but have to show more.

Safeties: C- Everyone knew entering spring that one of the more challenging positions was the safety spot because of the loss of the top three at the position from a year ago. Chauncey Scissum had moments during the spring, but not step up quite as expected. Ditto Rodney Williams. The player that emerged was Antwan Cordy who made the position switch from cornerback. He routinely earned the praises of the coaching staff and is in line to start this season. Incoming freshmen Marquise Blair, Christopher Frederick and Daivon Ellison will provide depth and have an opportunity for playing time. Blair is expected to crack the two deep. The spring was disappointing outside of Cordy, hence the low grade. But there is reason to be optimistic for the season.


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