Versatility is an often used term in sports, including college football. Sometimes this refers to individual players being able to do multiple things on the field or play multiple positions.
Take a look at players Syracuse has recruited and received commitments from over the past two cycles. Many of things have the ability to play multiple positions, something that improves roster versatility.
Players like Moe Neal, who can play running back or slot receiver. Jaquwan Nelson can play linebacker or defensive end. Joshua Black is a defensive lineman, but can play tackle or end. Carl Jones can play safety or cornerback.
Those are just a few examples from Syracuse's 2016 signees.
Now look at 2017 and that trend continues. Tyrell Richards can play inside or outside linebacker. Eric Coley is a talented athlete who can play receiver, defensive back or even running back in a pinch.
Kadeem Trotter plays cornerback in high school, but has the frame to grow into a safety or linebacker at the collegiate level. Syracuse is projecting him to play outside linebacker. Allen Stritzinger is coming to Syracuse as a running back, but was recruited by several other programs as a defensive back.
Patrick Davis is an offensive line commit who has played tackle, guard and center in high school. That gives Syracuse the option of moving him anywhere along the line depending on need.
Recruiting this way gives the coaching staff options should injuries arise or unexpected lack of depth arise at certain positions. It also allows players to move and contribute if it doesn't work out at the originally intended position.
Throughout the first week of training camp, Syracuse has done a nice job of moving players around to learn various positions. True freshman Devin Butler was brought in as a wide receiver, but worked with the running backs on Monday.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Evan Adams is in a battle for the starting right tackle position, but has spent time at center during camp. This allows Adams to provide depth at multiple positions along the offensive line.
The aforementioned Moe Neal started camp at running back, but has spent the open portion of the last two practices working with the slot receivers. Neal, a dynamic, explosive athlete, is a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands regardless of where he lines up. Learning both positions gives Syracuse more ways to put him in position to make plays.
Another recent move is true freshman Scoop Bradshaw working with the receivers after starting with the defensive backs.
What do moves likes these, and others of which we may not be aware, mean? It means Syracuse has players with skill sets that project success at more than one position. It also means that cross training players at several positions adds depth and versatility throughout the roster.
Think about it. If Jason Emerich misses a game, Adams can either step in as the backup center or becomes the backup to Emerich's replacement. Butler can move to running back or wide receiver, depending on need. Same with Moe Neal.
Skill position versatility allows Syracuse to line up in a formation and shift personnel play to play without subbing. That keeps defenses guessing even more than just tempo.
All of this is part of the staff's plan to build a versatile roster. The foundation is being built right now and it's clear why this is an important part of the Dino Babers model.