Syracuse Football has had a long history of success. We look back at some of the best players to play at Syracuse University. Up next, No. 16: Walter Reyes.
Syracuse Football has had so many amazing running backs in its storied history, but you cannot write a book about them without mentioning Walter Reyes. Though he was just as gifted as other SU greats and often racked up better rushing stats than most of them, he is often the forgotten man when that discussion comes up because of the era in which he played. Still, that shouldn’t take away from the great things he was able to accomplish during his time with Syracuse football.
Reyes was a running back who was strong through the tackles and had the speed to get by most would-be tacklers. During his time at SU from 2001-2004, he would rush for 3,424 yards, (second all-time at Syracuse to only Joe Morris-also later on this list), 45 touchdowns (most rushing touchdowns for a running back at Syracuse), and had 14-100 yard rushing games (3rd all-time at Syracuse), according to Cuse.com.
He had two really excellent individual seasons. In his sophomore year, he rushed 182 times for 1,135 yards (an average of 6.2 yards per carry) and had 17 rushing touchdowns, according to Sports-Reference.com. As a junior, he was even better, rushing 253 times for 1,347 yards (just 25 yards shy of Joe Morris’s single-season record) and 20 touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 375 yards and one touchdown as well.
That one receiving touchdown was the first and only one of his Syracuse football career and it was a big one at that! It was a screen pass to the right side that had some good blocking which Reyes burst through and took to the house for a 67-yard score. Relive that incredible score below:
In Reye’s senior season, he picked up right where he left off, earning him brief Heisman consideration. He finished with 148 rushes for 803 yards (5.4 yard average) and seven touchdowns to pair with 14 receptions for 113 yards. Those numbers would have been even better had his season not been cut short a few games by a shoulder injury.
Reyes was one of my favorite Syracuse athletes to watch growing up. I’ll never forget his game against Rutgers in 2004 (my first SU football game in person) where he broke through a tackle, stumbled, put one hand down on the turf to steady himself and then kept going- racing to the end zone. I was in the end zone seating with my Dad that day at the Carrier Dome as he ran right towards us. It was a thing of beauty watching him run with the speed and agility he had.
He would finish that day with an amazing 19 carries for 237 yards (12.5 yards average), two rushing scores, as well as one reception for 11 yards, according to ESPN.com. Talk about an introduction to Syracuse football!
To many fans though, Reyes played during a forgotten era of Syracuse football, as the Orangemen struggled to maintain the high level of play they had in the late 1990s. Despite that, Reyes quietly made noise with his play, setting multiple Syracuse football records:
- 45 career rushing touchdowns- career (1st)
- 20 rushing touchdowns- 2003 (1st)
- 3,424 rushing yards- career (2nd)
- 1,347 rushing yards- 2003 (2nd)
- 17 rushing touchdowns- 2002 (2nd)
- 241 rushing yard vs UCF- 2003 (2nd)
- 5 rushing touchdowns vs Notre Dame- 2003 (T-2nd)
- 14-100 yard rushing games- career (3rd)
- 59 receptions by a RB- career (3rd)
- 550 receiving yards for a RB- career (3rd)
- 253 carries- 2003 (3rd)
- 6-100 yard rushing games- 2002 (T-3rd)
- 625 carries- career (4th)
- 112.2 rushing yard per game- 2003 (4th)
- 5.48 yards per carry- career (4th)
- 237 rushing yards vs Rutgers- 2004 (4th)
- 4 rushing touchdowns vs UCF- 2003 (T-4th)
- 77.8 rushing yards per game- career (6th)
- 6.23 yards per carry- 2002 (6th)
- 12.4 yards per carry vs Rutgers-2004 (7th)
- 1,135 rushing yards- 2002 (8th)
*all stats above courtesy of Cuse.com
Though other great names like Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, and many others may be more known commodities, Reyes quietly had just as good of a Syracuse career as any of them and deserves to be recognized amongst them.
If Reyes had gone to just about any other top-tier football school, he probably would be ranked higher if not first in their record books. However, because Reyes played at a school known for having amazing running backs, he sits somewhere between 4th to 6th all-time at Syracuse in multiple statistical categories. That shouldn’t take away from the incredible years he had here on the Hill. He definitely deserves to be mentioned amongst the best players to ever play for Syracuse football. Hence why he slots in at No. 16 on our list of Syracuse Football’s Top 25 Players of All-Time.