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Syracuse Football: Star receiver arrives just inside ESPN top-100 rankings

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

National media outlet ESPN disclosed its 2023 preseason top-100 national player rankings on Tuesday, and one Syracuse football star made the cut.

Unsurprisingly, it’s Orange junior tight end/wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II, who has received a lot of national and Atlantic Coast Conference buzz ahead of the upcoming 2023 campaign, which starts for the ‘Cuse in early September at home versus Colgate.

ESPN places the 6-foot-5, 223-pound Gadsden, who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at No. 97 on its list of the top 100. He was not included in these ratings from ESPN ahead of the 2022 stanza, when Syracuse football would ultimately go 7-6 overall and reach a bowl game.

"Here’s what ESPN had to say in its write-up. “Is he a tight end or a wide receiver? Stop asking, Dino Babers said. Gadsden is just a football player — one who’s nearly impossible to defend. At 6-5, 220 pounds, Gadsden makes for an imposing-yet-agile target, and last year he used his impressive size and skills to rack up 61 catches for 969 yards and six touchdowns for the Orange.”"

Syracuse football tight end/wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II is a top-100 national player.

I’ll get back to Gadsden in a minute, but I wanted to pass along ESPN’s top 10, in case you’re curious who made it.

No. 1. Caleb Williams, junior quarterback, Southern California

No. 2. Brock Bowers, junior tight end, Georgia

No. 3. Marvin Harrison Jr., junior wide receiver, Ohio State

No. 4. Harold Perkins Jr., sophomore linebacker, LSU

No. 5. Drake Maye, sophomore quarterback, North Carolina

No. 6. Michael Penix Jr., senior quarterback, Washington

No. 7. Blake Corum, senior running back, Michigan

No. 8. Jordan Travis, senior quarterback, Florida State

No. 9. Jared Verse, junior defensive lineman, Florida State (former Albany player and Syracuse recruit)

No. 10. Mykel Williams, sophomore defensive end/edge, Georgia

As a sophomore in the 2022 season, Gadsden was named to the All-ACC first team as a tight end. ESPN alluded to it above, but last year, he caught 61 passes for 969 yards, an average of 15.9 yards per catch, while scoring six touchdowns through the air.

Gadsden’s receiving yards a term ago had him at No. 6 within the ACC and in the top 40 around the country, according to statistics from the ACC and the NCAA’s Web site.

National pundits are forecasting perhaps an even bigger year for Gadsden in 2023, although of course everything being projected now is purely speculative in nature.

He’s on numerous preseason All-ACC first teams, including from the league’s media poll, Pro Football Focus and Athlon Sports. College football expert Phil Steele has Gadsden on his preseason All-America third squad.

Additionally, the Orange standout is on the preseason watch list for the 2023 Biletnikoff Award, honoring the sport’s top receiver, and also for the 2023 Maxwell Award, which is doled out to the most outstanding player in college football.

Gadsden is one of several Syracuse football players on both the offensive and defensive sides of the field to be included on preseason national watch lists. Do I think ESPN should have included any other Orange players in its top 100?

Maybe, but maybe not. I guess you could make a case for senior quarterback Garrett Shrader, who is on preseason watch lists for several other national awards. ESPN, if my math is correct, has 21 quarterbacks within its top 100.

I believe that the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Shrader, a senior out of Charlotte, N.C., is poised for a strong 2023 season, but I don’t have much of an issue with him not being included in ESPN’s top 100. He can show the pundits what’s what on the field in the near future.

Next. Syracuse Football: Scouting Orange foes ranked in AP’s preseason top 25. dark