Syracuse Football: A four-part series on concerns fans have for 2021 term

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

Today I want to start a four-part series where I intend to address four areas of concern that I have seen from many fans in the Syracuse football fan base sharing before the season even starts. I don’t expect everyone to read this and suddenly become “woke” but I do think it is only fair to address these concerns the way that I see them from my point of view.

So here I go breaking it down how I see it in anticipation for this season and why I may not be as concerned with these areas as some seem to be. Those four questions of concern I see most are:

  • Is This The Taj Harris Redemption Tour?
  • Can The Offensive Line Tow The Line?
  • Tommy DeVito: Are We Headed To Success City Or Struggle Town?
  • With Winter Coming, Is Coach Babers Sitting Atop Seat Warmers?

I want to start off part one of this series by talking about wide receiver Taj Harris. I have talked about Harris and his potential and how I left him off an earlier post accidentally here due to his potential on the field. The feedback I have seen on social media and heard on local sports talk radio is that many are still upset about his antics off the field last season especially the incident flipping off the camera while sitting on the bench during the Syracuse football game versus Liberty and feel this could lead to either further meltdowns or lack of dedication to the team.

My first reaction when he did this was not outrage but I was not thrilled either. I thought it to be a mistake from a frustrated young man who had high expectations that were not working out as he hoped.

My impression is that this situation was addressed with the team, he issued an apology for his actions and it was handled in-house, which sometimes I think is an acceptable way to handle certain things. I don’t think we as fans need to know EVERYTHING surrounding the teams as far as what happens in the locker room. I think on some level we have to trust in our staff to handle matters how they see fit.

Syracuse football fans have several areas of concern heading into the 2021 season.

As far as Taj Harris goes, when people talk about him and his past, it takes me back to when Eric Devendorf was a basketball player here at Syracuse and his incidents off the court and how they were reported that left me confused as to why he was a player here and became my least favorite Orange player.

Cue when we see a guy in Eric Devendorf who is a leader for Boeheim’s Army and a leader in the community as far as addressing the needs of some who need the help most. So I look at the fan I was when Eric played and wonder, can Taj learn from his mistakes and be a team leader? Eric still has that swagger on the court when we see him play that might ruffle some feathers but he uses that to his advantage. Can we see Taj Harris with a similar swagger on the field but off the field and on the sidelines handling himself professionally?

Obviously, head coach Dino Babers has faith or he would not have been one of the players selected for the ACC Kickoff event in North Carolina recently. Coach Babers does want to win (and we will discuss that in the last of these series) but I also take him as a character guy who is willing to bench Taj should his antics negatively impact the team and let some other young receiver prove his worth.

One reason I like coach Babers is not just his ability to try to make football fun but how he coaches up players to be the best men they possibly can be (plus I like how he is more of a players coach than one who berates them). So my instincts tell me that if Taj Harris was more like the player some assumed him to be when that incident occurred and it was not a learning moment, they would not have him in the position he currently is and if he does head back down that path, they will address it properly.

Let’s remember that Taj Harris is a junior with the potential to set all kinds of records for Syracuse football on the field and that is impressive, especially when you look at the names of receivers who played that position before him.

He is also in a position to make himself a valuable commodity in future NFL drafts and part of that will be showing scouts and general managers that he can be productive on the field without being a distraction off of it and I bet he understands that just as much as anyone if he wishes to proceed to the next level with coaches reiterating that and possibly even mentoring him if needed.

And I have to believe a guy who committed to Syracuse football because his mom liked it here is a guy looking to make mom proud just like most sons would want to do because I am a momma’s boy who even though I lost her last year still tries to make decisions I think would make her and her memory proud.

So I will wrap it up by saying this, I believe in Taj Harris because I think people are capable of learning from mistakes and growing as individuals and none of us should be defined by one mistake in our life.

He is in the public eye so that made it even worse but I believe and hope the Taj Harris we see in the future is one we as fans will enjoy rooting for on Saturdays (and whatever other days they play this season).

I also think that as we will examine further in future parts of this series that if the offensive line play is better and if Tommy Devito is better plus a solid run game (which I think has the potential to be the strongest position in 2021), Taj Harris has playmaker potential to make fans cheering him on and NFL scouts remembering his name and being on draft boards either in 2022 or 2023.

I personally am looking forward to #3 lining up and being a major asset and contributor to the 2021 team with an end result being at least a bowl game appearance.


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