Syracuse Football: Preseason player prediction superlatives for the Orange

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /

July is already over half over which means we are a little over a month away from the start of the Syracuse football season on September 2nd against Colgate at the JMA Wireless Dome.

And while I can’t wait for that and the ending of the humid summer season, I thought I’d have some fun writing about the upcoming season.

In the past, I’ve written poems and broken down the games one by one and even tried predictions and while I might still do something like that again, I realized I never really tried individually acknowledging players.

So this year, for fun purposes only, I’m going to make some fun player predictions for the season. Some I think will be likely and some are just to keep it lighthearted and fun.

So without further ado, here are my first-annual Orangealicious preseason player prediction superlatives. Please take them in the lighthearted and fun way I’m intending and the ones more reality-based not as a slight on others but just simply my gut feeling in mid-July.

Here are my 2023 preseason player prediction superlatives for Syracuse football.

Most Likely to Win A Fan Favorite Award:

Hard to best Caleb Okechukwu who since Josh Black graduated seemingly is the guy many Syracuse football fans on social media enjoy interacting with, and he was also instrumental in the #LeQuintCanPlay creation.

Most Improved Player:

Stefon Thompson. Last season, I thought Stefon and Chris “Rhino” Elmore would be huge factors to the success of the team and unfortunately, both were lost to injury for the season early. If healthy, I think especially with Marlowe Wax Jr. getting so much love and attention with Mikel Jones gone, this might help open up possibilities for Stefon.

Best Option for a NIL Product Opportunity:

This is based purely on the name or personality of the player and not performance-based. So how about a menu item at Bull and Bear Roadhouse called the Bull And Barron Burger for Justin Barron? A “Red Barron” pizza might be a fun one, too, if a national brand needs a guy.

Best Name for a Fun Soccer-Style Fan Chant:

I have to admit that my first instinct here is to select Marlowe Wax Jr as so many on social media, myself included, love the Karate Kid “Wax on…Wax off” reference and that might be fun but I think Oronde Gadsden II wins this award because I could totally see the Dome shouting his name Oronde to the tune of Ole Ole Ole that’s often chanted at soccer games.

Freshman Most Likely to Make an Impact Right Away:

Francois Nolton Jr. has my vote. This one was a toss-up because Nolton is technically a freshman only because he redshirted and I think Muwaffaq Parkman is right there with him, too, but I think with LeQuint Allen back for Syracuse football, as long as he stays healthy, Parkman will get on the field but not have as many opportunities as Nolton will have. I think Nolton has a lot of talent and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out.

Most Intimidating Bio Pic on

Anwar Sparrow. Looking through the roster on and I noticed two things. A) that roster really needs to be updated immediately and B) there are a few guys who don’t smile in their photos but something about Anwar’s photo makes me think if I told him a bad dad joke that he’d give me a Goldberg-style spear that would require me getting help getting back up.

Special Teams Player to Watch:

While I’m a huge fan of Trebor Pena breaking out and possibly getting a TD or two this upcoming season, I think he’s equally as good at wide receiver, too, and I think the key to the success belongs to punter Max Von Marburg. Max had a good freshman season and I think will only get better in 2023. If his punts can pin opposing teams back frequently, this will give Syracuse football a huge advantage.

Favorite Concession Item:

Look I love the Dome Dog and Dome Nachos both but there’s one thing I think is missing if you want people to pay more for concessions and that’s using souvenir cups and containers that fans can keep and take home to reuse. If I’m going to pay $6 for a soda or $10 for nachos, why not put them in the football bowls or SU-themed cups they used to use and make it more worthy of the price?

Okay so this isn’t a player award but simply me pleading because I always enjoyed them. I lost my cups years ago but still have a “S” football bowl I got with my nachos once.

Best Player Many Casual Fans Might Not Know:

Derek McDonald. He and Sparrow both took the opportunity due to Stefon Thompson’s season-ending injury to step up and showed they can make plays. I fully expect even with Thompson healthy and Wax potentially looking at a future in the NFL that they’ll be plenty of time for both, and McDonald will be a name fans will know soon if they don’t already.

Leader of the Band Award:

Chris Bleich. With Matthew Bergeron in the NFL, the offensive line will have to replace him somehow and allow the offense the opportunity to make plays. Bleich is the most experienced and most likely player to be the glue that holds them together if they’re going to be a unit the offense can depend on.

Team MVP:

While I think there are several people worthy of this honor, I’m going to take Garrett Shrader. While some might think I’m taking him because QB is usually the MVP option for a team, it’s not in this case. I recall hearing Head Coach Dino Babers saying doctors told him that if Shrader got the medical treatment he needed, he’d be improved for the 2023 season. And if this team is about to be led by an improved version of what we saw last season with Shrader, it’s hard not to think he could be a guy leading this team to success and worthy of the honor, especially with offensive coordinator Jason Beck eager to prove he deserves this position.

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