Amba Etta-Tawo enjoyed the best year for a wide receiver in Syracuse football history this past season with 94 catches for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns. He set or tied the school record in all three categories. The downside for the Orange is that Etta-Tawo was a graduate transfer, meaning he has exhausted his collegiate eligibility.
For the offense to continue to take strides in the 2017 season, Syracuse must find someone who can fill his shoes. Here are some options.
Etta-Tawo had a excellent combination of size, length and speed. Though a bit skinny coming out of high school, Devin Butler has the length and speed to till Etta-Tawo's role. A year in the strength and conditioning program will allow him to get stronger to combat physical corners who will try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. Butler is an intriguing athlete who could be very productive within the offense if given the chance. The one concern is his ability to stay healthy. He struggled with that as a true freshman.
Jamal Custis redshirted this past season and could be an intriguing option. He has big time size at 6-foot-5 that could allow him to be a downfield threat. Though Custis has only been used sparingly during the early part of his career, a wide receiver friendly system could be just what the doctor ordered. One would think he was not redshirted for no reason. Clearly the coaches saw something that they thought they could tap into. Maybe it was to bulk up to be a tight end. Or maybe they were preparing him to take over for Etta-Tawo.
Entering last season, the expectation was Steve Ishmael would have a monster year similar to what Etta-Tawo ended up putting together. With Etta-Tawo's role now up for grabs, perhaps the talented, athletic, sure-handed Ishmael become the number one guy once again. He does not have the same kind of speed that Etta-Tawo possesses, but he can still be extremely productive.
Yes Russell Thompson-Bishop will be a true freshman, but Syracuse loves the way he runs. With his 6-foot-1 frame and downfield speed, he could find a role right away. Especially if he follows the summer conditioning program and can add some weight before training camp.
Cam Jordan may be one of the most intriguing players in Syracuse's 2017 class. At 6-foot-4, he has a fantastic frame. Jordan has long arms as well and can flat out run. A straight-line burner, the question for Jordan is route running, cutting and using his body to shield defenders. Once he puts those things together, his upside is tremendous.