Offseason stock watch: Which positions to buy, which to sell in SU’s offseason

Offseason stock watch: Which positions to buy, which to sell in SU’s offseason

September 16, 2020 ckrekbra 0

first_imgSyracuse (4-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) lost its fifth straight game on Saturday as Boston College (7-5, 4-4) left the Carrier Dome with a 42-14 win. The loss marked the end of a disappointing season in which the Orange, for the fourth straight year, failed to earn a bowl invitation.All season long, we’ve assessed each week’s game with a stock watch, where top performers went up and those who struggled went down. In that same light, here’s a crack at which positional groups SU fans will want to buy-in on heading into next season, which head coach Dino Babers promised will be “one to remember.”Stock UpDefensive backsThis was a group in 2017 that had to adapt from the get-go when safety Antwan Cordy — arguably the team’s best athlete — suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. Plus, grad transfer safety Jordan Martin only made it through a little more than half the season before suffering an injury of his own against Clemson.Redshirt junior Rodney Williams was reinserted as a starter with sophomore Evan Foster. With those two at safety, and sophomores Scoop Bradshaw and Christopher Fredrick returning at cornerback, there is experience returning. Add Cordy and redshirt freshman Ifeatu Melifonwu, who has impressed in practice this year, and SU will have depth. Competition can only help.Defensive LineWhen the SU defense was at its best, this was where it all got started. Think back to the big win against Clemson, and the image of redshirt junior Chris Slayton slamming quarterback Kelly Bryant to the turf and knocking him out of the game. SU had four sacks for 30 yards that game.But in the last three games of the year, SU had just three sacks total. When the front wasn’t getting initial pressure, the rest of the defense struggled. Opponents hanging 64, 56 and 42 on SU tells you all you need to know.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor SU, the hope is that the defensive line that returns just about everyone will look more like the unit it was earlier in the season. Both Kendall Coleman and Josh Black should be able to start clean with no injuries. Slayton will be primed for a big senior year. And everyone else will have another year to get bulkier and more experienced.QuarterbacksYou have to assume Eric Dungey will own the starting spot in his senior season. Before missing the final three games of the season, Dungey proved he was among the best quarterbacks in the conference and deserves one more shot to lead this team to a bowl game.Yet while Dungey’s strengths boost SU, his greatest flaw is a big part of what has held this team back in recent years. Dungey can’t stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season yet. And for the first time next year, Dungey will have a quarterback behind him on the depth chart who is, in all likelihood, good enough to keep the starting spot if an injured Dungey puts him there.That would be Tommy DeVito, the highly-touted recruit who spent this year as a redshirt. With that behind him, there is no reason not to play DeVito should Dungey go down. And for SU, that means it’s going to have a pretty good quarterback in there at all times.Stock DownWide ReceiversSU is losing two of the best receivers in program history and will be forced to replace them with players who are unproven at best. The unknown here is what could be scary for SU, considering how heavily it relies on the passing game to score points.Both Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips, owners of plenty of program receiving records, will graduate. Devin C. Butler and Jamal Custis will have a chance to own the two outside receiver spots. However, neither could gain a firm grasp on the one open slot this year and there’s no guarantee they’ll do any better a year from now. Custis has been in the program for four years already.Other contenders in the positional battle, which offers plenty of room considering SU loves to throw four or sometimes five receivers on the field at a time, include freshman Nykeim Johnson, who earned his first career start against BC; Sean Riley, who handled return duties this year and added eight receptions; freshmen Russell Thompson-Bishop and Sharod Johnson, who both redshirted this season; and incoming commit Ed Hendrix.LinebackersThis is another position where SU is losing decorated seniors. Zaire Franklin has led the defense for three years and will be gone. Parris Bennett amassed 225 tackles the past two seasons. Jonathan Thomas provided a versatile presence with the ability to cover the slot when needed. And graduate transfer Austin Valdez offered valuable experience and flexibility. They’re basically the only guys SU sent out as linebackers in 2017, and they’re all gone.What’s left is a mystery. Franklin said this season that current sophomore Andrew Armstrong could play now if he had to and would excel, but Franklin had no reason to say otherwise. Shyheim Cullen has done well on special teams and could step into a regular defensive role. After that, some younger guys like redshirt freshmen Nadarius Fagan and Tyrell Richards have the chance to earn plenty of snaps. Incoming freshman Juan Wallace has potential, too.Don’t be surprised if SU does what it did with Valdez and looks to bring in someone besides the incoming freshmen.KickerAs low as some of Cole Murphy’s lows were, he was a four-year starter who had his best season as a senior. With his eligibility run dry, SU needs a new kicker. There are options.Punter Sterling Hofrichter will be a junior and could take over the kicking duties — it’s what earned him a spot here in the first place. Andrew Szmyt and Jeffrey Chan are both currently freshmen and kicked well in high school. But kicking in high school and kicking in college are two completely different tasks, and that leaves SU with another hole that has an unknown filler going into the offseason. Comments Published on November 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

 

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