Position Preview: Defensive Backfield

Taking a look at the defensive backfield for Syracuse football entering the 2016 season.

The Syracuse Orange football team starts their first season under head coach Dino Babers on Friday. Heading into the opener, the defensive backfield is looking for major improvement from last year. 

Depth Chart


Starter: Corey Winfield 
Backup: Carl Jones          


Starter: Cordell Hudson  
Backup: Juwan Dowels                       

FREE SAFETY             

Starter: Antwan Cordy  
Backup: Chauncey Scissum                        

STRONG SAFETY             

Starter: Kielan Whitner  
Backup: Daivon Ellison        

Starters Entrenched?

Cornerbacks Corey Winfield and Cordell Hudson separated themselves with solid springs and training camps. 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. Dowels had a particularly impressive training camp and will see plenty of action. 

Safeties Antwan Cordy and Kielan Whitner are both nice 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. 

Chauncey Scissum and Rodney Williams provide experienced depth as both have started. Evan Foster emerged this fall as a true freshman, and will see the field. 


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

Foster and Clarke are both safeties, though Clarke could develop into a linebacker down the road. Jones is a bigger corner with length. 

Foster and Jones are expected to play this season. Both should contribute on special teams and be part of the rotation in the defensive backfield. Foster, in particular, emerged as a viable option during training camp. 

Clarke, on the other hand, is a redshirt candidate. 

Originally, the defensive backfield was expected to have Scoop Bradshaw, Michael Moore and James Pierre. Bradshaw has moved to wide receiver, Moore failed to qualify and Pierre is still awaiting NCAA clearance. 

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 was as important as any on the roster. 

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