Scouting the Big East: Syracuse

Just when you think he's down, Paul Pasqualoni takes the Orange where people thought he could not. So was the case last season after SU got to a solid second tier bowl game and beat Kansas State. They lost a lot of skill on the offense and impact on defense but the Orange are still a talented team with several solid prospects available next April.

Syracuse Orangemen

On offense the player with great athletic potential, and a prospect that could make a major jump up scouting sheets if he pulls it together on the football field, is receiver Johnnie Morant. Only a junior, Morant has tremendous size/speed numbers for his position and plays to them on occasion. Morant takes his large frame down the field, beating defenders deep, stretching out to make the seemingly impossible reception but is also strong enough to out-muscle opponents for the difficult catch in a crowd. He averaged almost 23-yards per reception last season; not bad for someone who measures in at 6-4/215. The problem is Morant only caught 18 passes in ‘01 and has yet to fully live up to expectations. Having the chance to step into the spotlight this season as a number one wide out, Morant can start to build the momentum and become a very early draft choice in '03 or '04. Another who'll have a shot to show his stuff this season and move up draft boards is senior fullback Chris Davis; an athletic lead blocker that does a fine job in short yardage situations and catches the ball nicely out of the backfield. Davis shared time with Kyle Johnson last year but the job is all his come September. Senior receiver David Tyree could get noticed this season if he displays more consistency while junior tight end Lenny Cusumano is a player with a high upside.

The defense will miss Dwight Freeney as well as a pair of solid defensive backs, both of whom are presently in NFL camps. The top defensive prospect is Clifton Smith, a middle linebacker that can be a one man wrecking crew defending the run and displays great force moving up the field. He easily defeats blocks even when pitted against bigger linemen, easily bringing ball carriers down on initial contact. Smith displays a good head in run defense and mans the middle well but has limited lateral range, skills defending the pass and has difficulty making plays in reverse, which may knock him out of the top 40 selections. Junior Josh Thomas is a hard-working lineman that can be used at left defensive end and possibly tackle in the future. Athletic, relentless and a defender that makes plays both up the field or out to the flanks, Thomas could stand to add both bulk and strength to his frame. Safety Keon Walker is also very athletic and explodes onto the scene the few times he is around the ball. Walker needs to get more involved in the action and really step up his game if he's going to be selected in the draft next April. Latroy Oliver displays solid cover skills and will get free agent consideration as a dime back.




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