Syracuse football kicked off their 2015 season on Saturday with their annual media day. Head coach Scott Shafer, senior quarterback Terrel Hunt and sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin each spoke for a period of time, addressing a variety of topics. Here are the most important news and notes from the day.
Freshmen Class Impressing Already
”It’s great to have them here,” Shafer said. “We’ve been able to see them a little more this year because of the way the rules have been put in place. Been able to watch them run, watch their movement skill sets. I’m pleased with them. They’ve done a nice job with their 110 (yard dash) test. Kids all made it with ease.
”We have a big strong group of young men that are playing on the offensive and defensive line. Now we’re just looking forward to seeing them on the field with the pads on. It’s a lot different when you’re on the field with your pads on then it is running around doing drills on the grass. Good group of kids. Looking forward to seeing them on the field.”
Terrel Hunt Maturing
”Anytime a quarterback, especially a quarterback, sometimes a middle linebacker as well, is forced to step back and not have that opportunity to play, a multitude of things go through his process moving forward,” Shafer said. “I can relate to that. That happened to me when I was a player. The game has slowed down because you can’t play anymore. So you’re looking for things to do to try to stay involved. He was anxious to stay involved. Coach Lester did a great job taking him under his wing and teaching and reteaching football. It was slowed down to the point where he was looking at things like a coach.
”For him to be able to sit there in the box and hear the plays and see the development on the field with a couple of young guys playing that hadn’t played a lot, I think probably helped his maturation a ton. So that’s the biggest thing. Then the next thing is just missing the game. It’s like a lot of us that are a little bit older now that can’t do the same things we used to do in sports. When it’s taken away from you and you know it’s not coming back, it’s one thing. But when it’s taken away from you and you’ve got another shot at it, you’re highly motivated. He’s done a nice job from structuring his diet, his workouts, his film time. Everything he’s done has been to put together an athlete that’s ready to have a great senior campaign. So I’ve been pleased with his work ethic, his development and I’m looking forward to having Terrel back on the field for us.”
Ervin Philips Bigger, Stronger, Faster
”Erv’s done a really nice job,” Shafer said. “He’s gotten bigger, stronger in the offseason. Maybe a little bit faster. He’s put on some good weight. When you see him out at practice, you’ll see what I’m talking about. He just looks like a sophomore, not a freshman right out of high school that was a multi-sport type of kid. His maturity has grown in the offseason in the classroom. He’s a focused young man that’s excited to be playing that h-back position. That express back position as people on the outside have started to call it and I’ve jumped into owning that as well. So I’m anxious to see him on the field and see him develop one day at a time.”
Marquise Blair Update
”We’re to hear from the NCAA,” Shafer said. “Nothing’s changed as of yesterday. It’s going to be a wait and see type of thing with Marquise.”
”Mike Lasker, he had the procedure on his shoulder, he’s doing really well,” Shafer said. “We did have Jacob Green, who some of you know. Jacob’s a walk-on tight end for us. Unfortunately, he was playing some pickup basketball and tore his ACL, so he wont’ be with us. Other than that, we’ve got everybody back. A couple of guys who will be limited. Tyler Provo had a little bit of a hamstring strain a couple weeks back, so we’re going to try to be smart with him. For the most part, we’re full bore and ready to roll.”
Shafer added that they will limit Lasker's contact early, but he will practice in a limited capacity. He should be back close to 100% by mid-August.
Moving Forward From Last Season
”We’re not looking back, that’s for sure,” Shafer said. “The message is what are we going to do today to get better tomorrow. The theme is what are we doing right here, right now to make ourselves a better football team. Not looking backwards, not looking forward too far. Not even looking sideways. But focused on what is going on right now in front of us. Special teams meeting, academic orientation, whatever it may be. Just trying to win the opportunity and stack up the wins daily. That’s our focus.”
”Last year’s over,” Franklin said. “I’m kinda tired of talking about it to be completely honest with you. Like I said, that was our reality. Now everyone is 0-0. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ohio State or finished last in FBS. Everyone’s undefeated right now. We’re worried about Rhode Island.”
Brisly Estime Back and Healthy
”Looks great,” Shafer said. “He’s had a great offseason. He’s strong. His body looks wonderful. Killed all the testing. Ran extremely fast in his sprints. He’s ready to roll.”
Ron Thompson’s Importance
”With regards to Ron Thompson, we are, we’re looking forward to Ron having a great season,” Shafer said. “Extremely selfless young man that understood last year, with some of the issues we had, he had to bounce around a bunch. He was an undersized kid who had to play inside some. His natural position is out on the edge. That’s what he’ll be playing. I’m pleased with his improvement at end this spring. He looks good. He’s ready to go. We have great expectations for Ron to have a good season.”
”Ron’s the most important person on our defense, hands down,” Franklin said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. A tremendous player. I think Ron is going to have a really, really strong season this year.”
Steve Ishmael Ready to Break Out
”He could be great this year,” Hunt said. “His confidence has skyrocketed. He’s happy with what he’s doing. I trust him. He works hard. We just have to go out there and put it on the field. He never says no, I’ll tell you that. Even after we finished running 110’s or whatever and I want to go throw, he’s with it. Sometimes even when I’m tired, he says, ‘no T-Hunt, we’ve got to go throw.’ That’s what I love about him. His drive is everything.”
Alvin Cornelius Stepping Up
”Ace, I’m really proud of him,” Hunt said. “He’s a leader in the room and I trust him with everything. I only have to tell him one thing and he’s never going to say ‘oh but I was doing this.’ As long as I tell him, he does it. And if I’m wrong, he’ll do it and then tell me, ‘hey that’s why I did it this way.’ He never back talks and I trust him. I throw the ball up and I don’t care if there’s three defenders around him. Because when I throw it up, I know he’s going to get it or no one else will.”
Jamal Custis to be Red Zone Threat
”He’s 6-6, he’s a big dude,” Hunt said. “He’s still young so he’s still trying to get it together and everything. I think he’s going to be a huge asset once he finally gets his confidence. I’m real hard on him. Even when he does good I tell him he did terrible just so he doesn’t get content with what he’s doing. But I think he’s going to be a huge asset once he figures everything out.”
Zaire Franklin More Comfortable Entering Year Two
”You have a better idea of what to expect,” Franklin said. “A lot better idea of what to expect, what’s going to happen. How things are going to go. Definitely just fine tune my game. Work on the little things that coach Lea and coach Bullough, coach Shafer pointed out for me to work on. Then just help out in my room and get better as a unit.
”One thing I definitely stressed this offseason was getting stronger. I felt like when I played towards the end of last year, it was tough especially against those power running teams like Pitt and B.C. I did the best I could, I was fighting. At the same time, I feel like I could’ve been better prepared. That only came with going through college conditioning. Going through the offseason, I definitely felt like I transformed my body this offseason. As well as just understanding the playbook, footwork, just little nuances in my game that may not seem like a big deal, but make a big difference on Saturdays.”
Parris Bennett Scouting Report
”The thing about Parris is, Parris freakishly athletic and really long,” Franklin said. “He’s 6-0, 6-1, but has a really long frame. The thing about that is, he does a good job of bending. His blitz lines are almost perfect. He’s really good at blitzing. And then also his cover skills. Those are two things he excels at. Then he’s also really good in the box. Parris, he’s an athletic, long linebacker. That definitely works in his favor. I’m looking forward to seeing what he puts on the field. I know PJ is a baller. He’s been waiting for his turn.”