On nearly every football team across the country, someone will have a breakout 2015 season that many may not have seen coming. The Syracuse football Orange will be no exception, so we take a stab at some of the likely candidates this year.
Alvin Cornelius – The veteran wide receiver is finally ready to assume a larger role in the offense. He was considered an after thought by most entering spring football as many expected him to be the odd man out of a deep receiving corps. But Cornelius was arguably Syracuse’s more consistent performer this spring, and earned a starting role. He frequently received the praises of the coaching staff and could provide Syracuse with a nice weapon opposite Steve Ishmael.
Aaron Roberts – Offensive linemen rarely make breakout lists because it is not a position that can be measured by statistics. Yet the offensive line is one of the more important units on any football squad, and Roberts is starting to emerge as a future star. The redshirt freshman has already moved up the depth chart to a starting spot and he could help absorb multi-year starter Rob Trudo sliding over to center without a drop-off in production.
Trey Dunkelberger – Dunkelberger is listed on the third string on the post-spring depth chart. That is a little bit of a surprise, but his work during the spring will only help when fall camp comes around. He knows what to work on and will work towards improving his blocking, which the coaches noted was inconsistent. His ability to stretch the field and be a weapon in the red zone will make it difficult for the coaching staff to keep him off the field. He has all of the ability and skills necessary to blossom. Now he just has to do it.
Jamal Custis – The big wide receiver is a physical presence who made some plays during spring football. During the spring game, he showed the ability to stretch the field and use his body to shield defenders. If he can become more consistent in that area, he could be a playmaker for the Orange this season. The coaching staff loves his upside, and he has shown flashes of combining his physical talent with the mental aspect of the game.
Kayton Samuels – Samuels surprised by jumping Wayne Williams as the starting defensive tackle after spring football. The redshirt freshman is still working on limiting the mental mistakes that young football players generally make, but his physical tools are undeniable. With the loss of three starters along the defensive line from a year ago, Samuels could be important to the success of the unit this season.
Chris Slayton – Syracuse loves to rotate their defensive line to keep everyone fresh throughout a game. Slayton was recruited as a defensive end but has transitioned to tackle to take better advantage of his athleticism as well as add extra depth to the roster. Slayton is in line to see plenty of snaps, and his quickness and athleticism could give opposing offensive lines fits. He is a prime candidate to come in during pass rushing situations and provide pressure up the middle.
Parris Bennett – Bennett played sparingly as a true freshman last season but is in line to start and see significant action this year. Bennett’s quickness off the edge combined with Syracuse’s aggressiveness with their linebackers could lead to some strong highlights in 2015.
Antwan Cordy – Did anyone have a better spring than Antwan Cordy? He came in as a freshman cornerback last season but has transitioned to safety to provide depth and versatility in the secondary. Making a transition as a youngster can often lead to some early struggles. That was not the case for Cordy. He stepped up right away and may have taken a stranglehold on one of the starting safety spots. Cordy was praised throughout the spring, often cited for making multiple interceptions. Playmaking ability like that will be needed for a defensive unit replacing eight starters.