Syracuse football camp kicked off on Sunday as the Orange look to have a bounce back 2015 season. There are several players that have the most to gain and the most to lose during camp.
Most to Gain
WR Alvin Cornelius: Cornelius enters camp as the starter opposite Steve Ishmael. This is an excellent opportunity for the redshirt junior to solidify his starting position and carve out a significant role within the offense. He already has the trust of the coaching staff, and at a minimum will be part of the rotation at receiver, but he can really solidify his spot with a strong camp performance.
RB Dontae Strickland: Yes he is a true freshman, but Dontae Strickland has an opportunity to impact Syracuse in three spots. First, as a running back, Strickland has the opportunity to steal carries away from the top two guys. He could see time as the third back. Also, Strickland will learn the express back role during camp. The backup spot to Ervin Philips is wide open, and he could earn some snaps there. Third, Strickland can make a name for himself as a returner. He was skilled in that area in high school, and Syracuse would like to have a dynamic returner to give them an other way to score.
OG Alex Hayes: The right guard battle will be one of the most fun ones to watch this fall. But for Hayes, it goes beyond this season. With players like Samuel Clausman and other incoming players set to battle for that spot in 2016, this is an opportunity for Hayes to not only compete for the starting this season but to establish himself as one of their top interior linemen going into next year.
DT Steven Clark: The lack of experienced depth at defensive tackle has been well documented. Syracuse will have to rely on at least one true freshman if they want to have a four-man rotation. Clark has already separated himself to some degree by adding nearly 50 pounds of muscle and strength to his frame. He has a chance to gain a significant role in his first season at Syracuse and solidify that role for years to come.
DE Luke Arciniega: The defensive end position, similarly to defensive tackle, does not have a lot of experienced depth. Because of that, Arciniega has a chance to become the primary backup at end. That would mean significant snaps as Scott Shafer, Chuck Bullough and Tim Daoust love to rotate their defensive linemen. Yes there are talented youngsters such as Jake Pickard, Amir Ealey and Qaadir Sheppard trying to make a name for themselves as well, but Arciniega has a golden opportunity in front of him this fall.
Most to Lose
RB George Morris: If it doesn’t happen now for George Morris, when will it happen? Without a strong camp, and ultimately productive season, Morris could find himself on the outside looking in as far as receiving carries. Not only are there two very talented true freshmen in Strickland and Jordan Fredericks competing for touches, but Robert Washington is set to join the rotation next season. With DeVante McFarlane already ahead of him on the depth chart, it may be now or never for Morris.
S Chauncey Scissum: Scissum is in a similar situation to Morris. If he wants to be the starter at Syracuse, it may have to happen this season. He has a chance to play a significant role without any returning players who contributed in 2014. Both Rodney Williams and Antwan Cordy have as much or more eligibility left than Scissum. Talented true freshmen Kielan Whitner, Christopher Fredrick and Daivon Ellison figure to start pushing for playing time in 2016 at a minimum. Then factor in Marquise Blair either this season or next, in addition to the incoming 2016 class. Scissum has to snag a spot now or he could find himself slipping down the depth chart.
CB Julian Whigham: It is no secret that Whigham’s 2014 season was a disappointment. He believes he is ready to have a bounce back 2015 campaign. It starts with training camp and solidifying his spot as a starting cornerback. There are several talented youngsters nipping at his heels, so if he slips up, he could see his role diminish during his final year in Orange.
K Cole Murphy: Yes entering camp, Murphy has a stranglehold on the starting job. But also on the roster are Ryan Norton who beat Murphy initially in 2014’s training camp and incoming freshman Sterling Hofrichter. Hofrichter is very highly thought of by the coaching staff. If Murphy slips up, he could see that stranglehold disappear. A solid camp is still important.
QB A.J. Long: The backup quarterback spot is important here because of what it could mean for 2016. This is Terrel Hunt’s last season at Syracuse, meaning the 2016 starting job is firmly up for grabs. The offensive staff would prefer to have a mobile quarterback, giving him slight favor over Austin Wilson on paper. With true freshmen Eric Dungey and Kenterius Womack also battling, now is the time for Long to separate himself and emerge as the favorite for the 2016 gig. Without a strong camp, one or both of the freshmen could start gaining momentum heading into next year.