Syracuse Football: Log Jam at the QB Position?

Syracuse football could have a very unique situation next year that certainly hasn’t been a problem for quite a while: too much depth at the quarterback position.

I know what you’re probably thinking, how could they ever have too much depth at QB after the situations they’ve gone through the past couple years? Let me break it down for you so that you might better understand the situation we could have next year. And trust me, it’s a good thing.

First, let’s go over the returning players. Eric Dungey will be back from his third “upper body” injury of this past season. Although he took some big hits and made some questionable decisions in the run game, he is the clear favorite to be the starter next year, at least at the moment.

He was head and shoulders above our other quarterbacks and showed a dynamic ability to run the ball and a fairly accurate arm as well. How well that translates into Dino Babers spread style, hurry up offense remains to be seen. But with nothing else to go by other than past performance, he’s the clear number one at this point.

Number two on the depth chart, at least currently, is Zack Mahoney. After walking on and being the fifth string quarterback, Mahoney quickly flew up the depth charts due to injuries. When given the opportunity, he showed impressive grit and determination in game situations. He played exceptionally well against LSU and even had a solid game against Clemson.

Mahoney is a magician in the read option, which is what Syracuse ran on over 70% of their offensive snaps. He knew just how to read the defense and get them to bite on the misdirection, something he did time and time again against Clemson. His accuracy is a major concern, but he does have a cannon for an arm, so perhaps he can improve his accuracy under the new quarterbacks coach, Sean Lewis.

Austin Wilson is the third player on the depth chart. After AJ Long was medically disqualified, Wilson moved up to take his spot. Wilson did a serviceable job in 2014 as a freshman, starting against Florida State and Duke. Although he never eclipsed 100 yards in a game, he showed flashes of potential including completing 8 of his first 9 attempts against Villanova.

Syracuse Football Terrel Hunt

Sep 4, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt (10) is helped off the field after being injured against the Rhode Island Rams during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 47-0. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The fourth possibility on the current roster is Terrel Hunt. Hunt was not granted a medical waiver to give him a sixth season, but he is appealing that decision and awaiting a final ruling from the NCAA. It is possible that he will win that appeal, as he was injured in the very first game of the season last year, and normally players are given a medical redshirt as long as they play less than 30% of the team’s games.

If he wins the appeal, that means we have four QBs on our roster, all of whom have game experience on the field and leadership off of it. Aside from those, we also have two very promising quarterbacks in this year’s recruiting class: Rex Culpepper and Lindsey Scott.

Culpepper is a 3-star, pro-style quarterback from Tampa, Florida and is somewhere between the 60-80 range for overall rankings of quarterbacks according to top scouting websites. He’s ranked right around the top 30 as a pro style quarterback, and that number has even suffered a bit due to an ACL tear that kept him out of his senior season. His recovery has gone well though, and he’s expected to compete immediately for the starting job at Syracuse.

Lindsey Scott could be the real recruiting gem from this class at quarterback. Although given a slightly lower overall ranking as a quarterback by most recruiting sites, his ability as a dual threat and his surprising accuracy make him a valuable commodity for the Orange. I also think that many of the scouting sites penalized him incredibly harshly due to his size. He’s only 5’11, making him very small for a starting quarterback. Then again, Doug Flutie was only 5’10, and we all know what he did for Boston College and the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

One thing that I think will massively help Lindsey Scott is the hiring of Mike Hart as the running backs coach. Hart is another man of small stature (5’9), but he’s also one of the most competitive and most skilled players to ever come out of the CNY area. He still holds pretty much every rushing record at Michigan, and that’s no easy feat. I think that he would be able to help Scott develop a lot as a runner, and possibly even convert him to full-time RB if he doesn’t win the QB job.

Scott looked outstanding his senior season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns while completing 64% of his passes with just 5 picks. He also ran for 1,963 yards and another 28 touchdowns. Those are some insanely gaudy stats, and led him to receiving the Mr. Football award for the best player in the state of Louisiana.

He followed that up with an excellent performance in the Offense-Defense Senior Bowl, going 15-20 for 195 yards and rushing for 94 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 2-point conversion. The team came up just short, 37-34, but it certainly wasn’t due to Lindsey Scott.

There’s one last name that I need to mention and that’s Davis Webb. Webb is a graduate student from Texas Tech who is looking to transfer this year so that he can play immediately. Syracuse has already shown great interest in him, and he is listed as a high 3 to low 4 star recruit, also a pro style quarterback.

Webb is a proven athlete and competitor, appearing in 23 games for Texas Tech and throwing for 5,557 yards and 46 touchdowns. He would be an excellent “get” for this team, and would be an immediate impact player who could possibly be thrown right into the starting position ahead of everyone else on the roster. He is a good fit for the Babers offense, as he has a great arm and has shown big play capability.

So there you have it, that’s a possible seven quarterbacks for next years roster. That’s got to be a major sigh of relief to SU fans who have seen us go through quarterbacks like they were disposable wet naps over the past two seasons.

Let’s just hope that if we find a quarterback that works really well in the Babers system, we can keep him healthy for the whole year. If that happens, we might be in store for a much improved offense right off the bat in this new era of Syracuse football. Summer training camp can’t come soon enough in my opinion!