The Syracuse football program has begun spring practice. The spring game is set for April 22nd. Between now and then will be several practice sessions. The efforts this spring will help shape their standing entering fall training camp. This spring is the most important for three players in particular.
3. Colin Byrne
Byrne stepped in for an injured Jason Emerich last season in the last several games. Emeric is now gone, having exhausted his eligibility. Byrne enters the spring as the starting center, but has redshirt freshman Sam Heckel behind him. It is an open competition, but one that may be more critical for Byrne's future.
This is an opportunity for Byrne to take a strangle hold on the job and force Heckel to move to guard in order to gain playing time. A move that may be more difficult for Byrne to gain playing time. Should he lose out to Heckel this spring, regaining the spot during training camp would be an even steeper uphill climb.
Back at running back after a stint at wide receiver, Perkins enters a critical juncture of his career. Will he ever see the field in a meaningful way for the Orange? If he is going to, now is the time to force the coaches to play him.
Perkins is one of only two scholarship running backs on the roster this spring, those Moe Neal certainly can play there. A strong spring performance from Perkins means the task for Markenzy Pierre to pass him is extremely difficult. A subpar spring and he all but hands the backup running back job to the true freshman.
1. Jamal Custis
Now is the time for Custis. With Amba Etta-Tawo headed for the NFL, Custis is starting the spring as the starter in his place. Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips are entrenched as the other started at wide receiver and slot, meaning the other receiver position is wide open. Custis has the size, length and athleticism to be a force.
He just has not put it all together yet during his career with the Orange. With the lack of a clear starter there, Custis has a golden opportunity to grab a starting spot in an offense that is very wide receiver friendly. Should he lose the job this spring, the chances he regains it in order to become a fixture within the offense this fall seems far less likely.