Dino Babers, Josh Black, Taj Harris, and Airon Servais all took the podium today at Day 2 of the 2021 ACC Kickoff. You’ve heard about Babers’ quest for consistency, Black’s readiness for fans to return to the Dome, and Servais’ excitement surrounding new offensive line coach Mike Schmidt. What you don’t know is that the Fizz was able to speak with all four of the SU representatives after the press conferences in the grand ballroom. Here are some of the gatherings and takeaways from the exclusive Q & A’s.
Duce Chestnut Will Make an Early Impact This Season
The highest rated recruit from SU’s 2021 class has been on campus for months at this point and has been a “steady riser” in the depth chart according to Taj Harris. Here’s what the wideout had to say about the talented corner.
“Duce Chestnut. That’s my boy from Jersey, a youngin. But yeah, he’s definitely stepped in and stepped up early. In this spring I’ve seen him balling out, I’ve seen him make his way up the depth chart. Yeah he’s definitely a baller.”
Harris was very confident when asked if he thinks Chestnut could contribute early on this season.
“I do see him playing early, he’s a baller.”
Harris wasn’t the only SU representative to heap praise on Chestnut. Here’s what Josh Black had to say.
“Duce came in really strong, really fast guy. He’s gonna be one hell of a player for sure. I’m just excited for him to keep taking his steps and steps and steps. He’s still young, he needs a lot more experience but he definitely has all the physical attributes and skill to be able to make that work.”
Update on the Wide Receiver Room
Harris returns as the #1 wideout in SU’s room. Anthony Queeley also returns as the #2 option but the Orange need to replace the production and speed lost when Nykeim Johnson decided to transfer to Kent State. Harris says there are a lot of guys stepping up this spring.
“Courtney Jackson looks great, Sharod Johnson and the younger guys that just got to campus, Oronde (Gadsden II). Definitely Courtney Jackson has stepped up, he’s been with us for a couple years. Sharod Johnson can step into that role. There’s definitely guys stepping up.”
Enrique Cruz May Not Have an Impact This Year but Has a Lot of Potential
Cruz is the second highest rated offensive lineman in program history so there will be high expectations set for him. Hopefully his career doesn’t pan out like former 4-star Qadir White’s did. If Cruz gets off to a slow start though, don’t panic. Airon Servais tells you why.
“Most o-line and d-line guys come in and redshirt just because it takes time to build not only size but the strength that comes along with it. Some people are genetic freaks and they come in ready to play at that position but for the most part a lot of those guys are going to redshirt so they can take that time to develop.
Lee Kpogba Will Not Suit Up for ‘Cuse This Fall
We went into media day wondering about the status of SU’s top-rated recruit from the 2019 class. When asked, Dino Babers said “you know. Just read the tea leaves.” He added that he also plans to release a statement on the situation soon. Kpogba was suspended from the team back in late February.This is a big hit for the Syracuse defense as Kpogba came on strong last season and finished with 44 tackles, one sack and a pair of tackles for loss.
Dino Babers Wants A Consistent Starter at QB
There’s no way Babers wouldn’t get asked a question about his signal callers. He referenced the 2018 season in response to a question and said just like that season, he wants the quarterback that starts the first game to be the same starter through the season and into the final game. This means whoever trots out for the opening drive of the 2021 season on September 4th at Ohio will be the starter for the whole season. Don’t plan on seeing a rotating cast of Tommy DeVito, Garrett Shrader, and JaCobian Morgan.
Marlowe Wax has become a “Physical Specimen”
Speaking of linebackers, Wax is another rising second year player that made his presence felt at the end of last season. He’ll compete for a starting linebacker role with Geoff Cantin-Arku but will certainly see the field in 2021. Black believes he’s primed for a breakout.
“Marlowe’s been working his but off right now and just changing and transforming into a physical specimen.”
Wax played in all eleven games as a freshman and recorded 24 solo tackles, three sacks, and five and a half tackles for loss with a forced fumble and recovery as well.
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