Syracuse Football: Future looks bright with several freshman stars

Syracuse football endured a really rough 2020 campaign, but there are some encouraging signs as the Orange tries to move forward in a positive direction.

The team’s 2021 recruiting class is solid, even if it’s not super highly ranked by the main recruiting Web sites. Several players who could have wrapped up their careers on the Hill are coming back for another season (although a few guys are departing Central New York, too).

An exciting, talented quarterback in Garrett Shrader has elected to transfer to the ‘Cuse from Mississippi State. Additionally, there are media reports out there that the Orange could add some other guys via the transfer market.

Sure, the secondary is losing a trio of elite players, likely to the professional ranks, but the Syracuse football defense also boasts multiple really, really good freshmen, which bodes well for the team’s future.

The Orange, we all know, did go 1-10 in this past stanza. The fan base is frustrated, but from my perspective, the only place that the ‘Cuse can go is up.

And it’s phenomenal that, despite a dismal 2020 term, three Orange players have received inclusion on freshmen All-American squads, according to announcements from cuse.com.

Defensive back Ja’Had Carter got named a freshman All-American by Rivals. During the recently concluded campaign, Carter, a true freshman, suited up in all 11 games and started 10 of them at safety.

Carter led all ‘Cuse defensive backs with 67 tackles, to go along with two interceptions, three pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2020.

Linebacker Stefon Thompson, also a true freshman, was selected as a freshman All-American by the Football Writers of America. He appeared in 10 contests, starting seven at linebacker, while collecting 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble.

Lastly, redshirt freshman cornerback Garrett Williams landed on The Athletic’s freshman All-American squad.

Williams culminated 2020 as the Atlantic Coast Conference leader in passes defended, with 12. He paced ACC cornerbacks in tackles per game, at 5.8, and Williams also led FBS freshmen in pass break-ups, with 10.