By Sean Fernandez
The departure of All-Big East running back Antwon Bailey and his 1,200+ yards from scrimmage leaves a pretty big hole in the backfield, one that will have to be filled if the Orange are to compete for bowl eligibility. Going down the depth chart, there are multiple backs will compete for the bulk of the carries when the season gets underway. Jerome Smith
is currently the favorite to land the starting job. He was listed 1st on the post-spring depth chart, and he got some touches here and there towards the end of last season. His stats weren’t all that impressive (only 134 yards on 37 carries), but he is now a junior, and will definitely get an opportunity to show his worth as a power-back for Doug Marrone.
Last year was a bit of a roller coaster for Prince-Tyson Gulley
. He was the victim of a South Campus stabbing in July of ’11, but he was lucky enough to make his way back to the field without missing much time. Playing behind Antwon Bailey, he carried the ball 18 times for 89 yards in 4 games before suffering a season-ending collarbone injury in an overtime win against Toledo.
If Gulley can avoid injuries this year, chances are that he’ll see the field quite often. Gulley gains chunks of yards at a time by using his quickness, whereas Smith likes to smash his way through the middle. The contrast between these two could provide a little bit of a ‘thunder and lightning’ backfield in the Dome, which may be able to take some of the pressure off starting Quarterback Ryan Nassib.
Behind Smith and PTG on the RB depth chart is Asthon Broyld,
a freshman from Henrietta, New York. Broyld is ridiculously athletic and has the versatility that will allow him to play multiple positions. In fact, he even shows up on the radar to see snaps under center!
He may be younger than his competition, but I would still expect Broyld to have an impact this year in some capacity.
To sum up his game, Broyld is fast. I mean, he’s so fast, that he makes fast people look, not fast. Sorry, I couldn’t help but include a reference from The Lonest Yard. Adonis Ameen-Moore
is still in the process of recovering from an upper-body injury that cost him a chunk of last season. That, and the logjam at RB will probably prevent Moore from having a significant impact this year, but I’d be sure keep an eye on him in the years to come. Second year RB’s coach Tyrone Wheatley has raved about his ability, saying that his running style is similar to that of Jerome Bettis.
At Fullback, Junior Clay Cleveland
will get the nod over freshman Myles Davis.
Cleveland, along with the experienced offensive live, will have the duty of blocking for all the players listed above. Any chance of having another 1,000 yard rusher may depend on the holes that these guys manage to open up.
Syracuse University’s football team has been defined by its reputation for producing talented running backs. Ernie Davis, Larry Csonka, Jim Brown, and most recently Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey have all had success on the ground while wearing orange. This year’s backfield will look a little different than in years past, but steady production from this group will be vitally important to the success of the offense.
Next up on our ‘Orange Outlook’ Position-by-Position Preview is the WR unit. It will post sometime during the week.