Syracuse Football: Four Orange football players who will step up in 2023

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Former Syracuse football star running back Sean Tucker has announced he intends to enter the NFL draft. So has Garrett Williams while his secondary teammates Duce Chesnut and Ja’Had Carter have left. Matthew Bergeron is also primed and ready to go pro. So many Orange fans are wondering what’s next and what players will step up and contribute.

Now let me start this by saying all of those players above were stars and will be missed. I wish them nothing but success and happiness.

And in no way is this a post that belittles their achievements. However in sports, whether you’re a coach or a player, when one person goes, someone must step up and I think these four Syracuse football players will in the 2023 campaign.

Here are four players who I believe will step up for Syracuse football in the 2023 season.

Let’s start with running back LeQuint Allen. Far too often when a player leaves, fans or analysts often try to compare them to their predecessor (in fact, I’m told that’s why 44 had to be retired because nobody could compare to the big 3).

But I think we should take each player individually and not compare them and in this case, having watched Allen in a couple of games here and there including the Pinstripe Bowl (where he had 15 rushes for 94 yards along with 11 receptions for 60 yards) so I’m excited to see him play more. LeQuint was a Gatorade New Jersey player of the year and his ability to rush and catch will prove valuable for QB Garret Shrader next season.

With Bergeron gone, the offensive line will need a new leader and my money is on Chris Bleich to step up. Bleich has the experience including his freshman season at Florida before injuries played a role and he eventually left for Syracuse.

And with new Offensive Line Coach Steve Farmer on board from success at Tulsa, Bleich could be the leader Coach Farmer needs to rely on to bridge the gap from last year to this year.

It would be easy for me to say Marlowe Wax Jr. will be one of the big leaders now on defense and most fans would know I’m right. But there is also one name let me remind you that is coming off an injury and is hungry to get back…Stefon Thompson.

Thompson suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2022 season and was to be a big asset to the defense after an impressive 2021 season. If healthy, Stefon and Marlowe will lead a young but talented linebacker squad that could produce yet another NFL combine invitation sooner rather than later. If healthy and if I were a gambling man, I’d put my money on hearing his name mentioned a lot next season in regards to leading defensive categories for the team and the ACC.

And last but not least I truly think Justin Barron will be a key component in the secondary. Barron truly seemed to find his groove as the 2022 season progressed and though Syracuse football lost in the Pinstripe Bowl, he took advantage of the opportunity and had a career-best in solo tackles that game. With three big-impact secondary players no longer in Orange, there will be a lot of potential for players to prove themself and number one on my list is Barron.

This is just me speculating here and I might be wrong. I also left off names like Shrader, Oronde Gadsden II, and Caleb Okechukwu because I think those three most fans know are capable of being leaders. I also left off Rob Hanna, Anwar Sparrow and Francois Nolton Jr. who also could be big contributors.

Not to mention transfers and freshmen who might see the field often as well. But these four are players I truly believe when 2023 ends, will be in the discussion for the next level or at least leading the team statistically. April 21st is the spring game so hopefully, we can get more of a glimpse then but for now, I’m riding with these guys for sure.

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