Syracuse depth chart analysis

A complete breakdown of the Syracuse football team depth chart, with projected starters by unit.


The last time Syracuse football took the field for a live game, the Orange manhandled West Virginia in blizzard conditions at Yankee Stadium during the 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl.


But much like the weather during that victory, the team has undergone dramatic change over the past seven months.


The most important difference can be found on the Syracuse sideline. Former head coach Doug Marrone bolted for the Buffalo Bills, allowing then-defensive coordinator Scott Shafer to inherit his first head coach position in the collegiate ranks. Shafer also replaced a few SU coaches who joined Marrone in Buffalo with a few fresh faces, most notably namely Chuck Bullough defensive coordinator and George McDonald offensive coordinator.


But on the field, Syracuse lost a number of key contributors. Quarterback Ryan Nassib and offensive lineman Justin Pugh were both drafted by the New York Giants, while safety Shamarko Thomas and wide receiver Alec Lemon were picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans, respectively.


Needless to say, all of this movement has sparked a lot of flux throughout the Syracuse depth chart.


The latest example of this can be found in the team media guide, which now contains the most recent version of the chart. While some positions have seen little change, others look much different than they did one year ago.

Here is a summary of how the depth chart breaks down prior to fall practice for the 2013 season. The chart is updated as of June 25.



The main conundrum on everyone’s mind is the task of replacing Nassib. His impact on the team last year cannot be understated. Without Nassib’s poise in the pocket during the second half of the season, the Orange would have likely been shut out of bowl contention.


As of now, Terrel Hunt is the favorite for the starting nod. Although his arm is not the strongest, Hunt is the most athletic quarterback on the Syracuse roster. If he can attack opponents vertically with effectiveness, he will have the most upside of any returning SU quarterback.


Meanwhile, John Kinder and Charley Loeb are both posted as second-team backups.


The real wild card will be Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. He is not listed on the chart because he did not arrive prior to the release date. However, Orange fans were gushing as soon as they learned he was considering the move to Syracuse. They believe his time in the pass-heavy Sooner offense could give him an edge over all three of his teammates. Only time will tell if that is indeed the case.



There are no real changes at the running back position. Seniors Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley return after combining for more than 2,000 rushing yards one year ago. They should form one of the best tandems in the ACC.


Senior Clay Cleveland is listed as the number-one fullback ahead of Adonis Ameen-Moore. In addition, Ashton Broyld is tagged as the team’s hybrid half-back.


Wide Receiver/Tight End

Lemon and Marcus Sales proved to be a formidable duo during Nassib’s record-setting season.  Although their production can’t be fully replaced, Shafer has a few weapons to work with.


According to the depth chart, Jarrod West and Adrian Flemming are his two favorites. In West’s case, this isn’t much of a surprise. He is a large target that can outmuscle opposing defenders. Flemming is similarly built, but lacks game experience as a receiver.


Realistically, wide receiver will be a timeshare for the Orange. West is the clear number one, but Flemming falls into a group with Jeremiah Kobena, Chris Clark and others. At least one of them, but preferably all, will need to step up for Hunt and the quarterbacks.


As expected, Beckett Wales is listed as the top tight end.


Offensive Line

The first-team offensive line from left to right reads as follows: Sean Hickey, Rob Trudo, Macky MacPherson, Nick Robinson and Ivan Foy.


Without question, MacPherson is the leader of this unit. He’s the most experienced of the group and one of the most reliable centers in the country, which is evidenced by his spot on the Rimington Award watch list.


Defensive Line

Meanwhile, the first-team defensive line features Robert Welsh and Micah Robinson at the end positions, with Eric Crume and Jay Bromley at the two tackle positions.


Bromley should cause the most trouble for opposing quarterbacks. Although his numbers weren’t stellar, he showed numerous flashes of brilliance when he was teamed with Deon Goggins and Brandon Sharpe last season. The line’s success could be determined by whether or not he can take the reins as a true leader.


Another intriguing player will be Iowa transfer John Raymon. He’s a huge body with plenty of upside.



This is where you will find the heart of the Orange defense: Marquis Spruill. The New Jersey native played in every single game during his collegiate career and consistently produced. He can pursue runners with ease and blow up plays in the backfield. He will be the spark plug of Chuck Bullough’s defensive unit.


To Spruill’s outside are juniors Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis.


Two other linebackers with something to prove are Josh Kirkland and Luke Arciniega. Both junior college transfers are raw talents, but they could develop into valued playmakers once adjusted to the Division I level.



Keon Lyn and Ri’Shard Anderson form the current tandem at cornerback. Lyn had a breakout game against Temple and emerged as a solid corner last season.  Anderson’s season was much quieter, but he also delivered in key spots. Although not ideal examples of a “shutdown corner,” Lyn and Anderson are very serviceable and calm in coverage.


Don’t forget about Brandon Reddish either. He will likely remain a reserve, but he will be called upon throughout the season.


Ready to help fill the void left by Thomas at safety are Durell Eskridge and Jeremi Wilkes. Wilkes has plenty of experience, but Eskridge does not. Still, Eskridge did record two sacks and 36 tackles in his redshirt freshman season. If he can build on that success, the Orange secondary could quietly become a huge advantage.


Special Teams

Senior Ross Krautman enters his final season having made 48 career field goals, good for fourth on the school’s all-time list. Despite pressure from Ryan Norton in the spring, it looks as if Krautman will be the starting kicker and add to that total. Norton should handle kickoffs, while Jonathan Fisher is all but guaranteed to handle punting duties.

Kobena is slated to return kickoffst, and that likely won’t change prior to week one. Finally, Ritchy Desir is listed as the team’s punt returner despite struggling at times last season.


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