Syracuse Orange Training Camp Position Preview: Defensive Backfield

CuseNation.com breaks down the Syracuse secondary heading into training camp.

The Syracuse Orange football team starts their first training camp under head coach Dino Babers. Heading into camp, the secondary is looking to improve from a poor 2015.

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Quarterback 
Running Back 
Wide Receiver   
Tight End       
Offensive Line   
Linebacker  
Defensive Line

Post-Spring Depth Chart

CORNERBACK 1

Starter: Corey Winfield 
Backup: Wayne Morgan 
Third String: Christopher Fredrick           

CORNERBACK 2

Starter: Cordell Hudson  
Backup: Juwan Dowels                       

FREE SAFETY             

Starter: Antwan Cordy  
Backup: Chauncey Scissum                        

STRONG SAFETY             

Starter: Kielan Whitner  
Backup: Rodney Williams   
Third String: Daivon Ellison
Fourth String: Joe Stanard       

Starters Entrenched?

Cornerbacks Corey Winfield and Cordell Hudson separated themselves with solid springs. Winfield, in particular, really impressed the coaching staff. His combination of length and athleticism makes him someone that could have a really strong year. 

Especially within the Tampa 2 system, where he will play a lot of zone. His instincts will give him a chance to create some turnovers this season. 

Hudson is a tough, physical corner who may not have the same length as Winfield, but is willing to match up with any receiver and go toe to toe with them. He has been beat deep in the past, but the zone system should help alleviate some of that. 

Wayne Morgan and Juwan Dowels provide quality depth with experience. Both have had up and down moments during their time on the field in prior seasons. It may be tough for either to push for a starting gig, though their depth will be important. 

Safeties Antwan Cordy and Kielan Whitner are solid players. Cordy was arguably Syracuse’s best defensive back a year ago. He has speed, is a sure tackler and is a playmaker in the defensive backfield. He provides versatility as he can drop down to play corner if needed. 

Whitner went through some growing pains as a true freshman, but showed flashes of potential. A long, lean defensive back with some decent speed, Whitner has the potential to break out this season if he can become more consistent. 

Neither is expected to be pushed by Chauncey Scissum or Rodney Williams, though both do provide experienced depth. 

Newcomers

Syracuse is adding a lot of young talent to the defensive backfield this season. True freshmen James Pierre, Evan Foster, Devon Clarke, Carl Jones and Scoop Bradshaw all have talent but may need time before they see the field consistently. 

Pierre, who can play corner or safety, may be the best bet to step in right away in a reserve role. Foster and Clarke are both safeties, though Clarke could develop into a linebacker down the road. Bradshaw can play corner or safety, while Jones is a longer corner who needs to develop a bit. 

An intriguing option is junior college transfer Michael Moore. Moore has the size and skills to make an impact right away. In fact, despite solid starters being in place, he could push Cordell Hudson for one corner spot or even Morgan or Dowels as a nickel corner. 

NOTE: Both Moore and Pierre are still awaiting clearance from the NCAA. They cannot practice until they are cleared. 

System Change

Watching how the defensive backfield develops and works throughout camp will be important. A change from a primarily man system under Scott Shafer that featured quarters coverage will transition to a cover two zone coverage system. 

That is a huge change for the defensive backs, but not one they cannot handle. There are some players to like, and the system change may actually help minimize some of the problems that occurred last season. 

The issue will be, however, learning the assignments and not being out of position. That’s why training camp for this group may be as important as any on the roster. 

Prediction

Corey Winfield remains the top corner, while Hudson holds off Moore as the other starting corner. Moore starts out as the nickel cornerback with Morgan and Dowels both rotating in at times. 

Both Cordy and Whitner are the primary safeties and will remain there throughout camp. 

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