It’s a tricky exercise to speculate on a team’s position battle without a lot to go on, but that’s what SU football fans have been doing all offseason. After a lean 1-10 year that saw Syracuse finish last in every major yardage category, a crowded quarterback room provides some excitement and intrigue.
What do we know about this impending position battle?
Mainly, two things: we don’t know much, and that Syracuse needs to make the right decision. The future of the program may depend on it.
As of right now, Syracuse’s quarterback room is composed of the incumbent starter (Tommy DeVito), an intriguing newcomer (Garrett Shrader) and plenty of youth (JaCobian Morgan, Dillon Markiewicz). The pending quarterback battle is likely between DeVito and Shrader, a Mississippi State transfer.
On one hand, DeVito’s experience (23 career games including 16 starts between 2019-2020) would automatically hand him the job. On the other hand, he’s immobile – just 128 career rushing yards – and has taken 75 sacks in his 23 games. Syracuse is just 6-10 in DeVito starts since 2019.
Garrett Shrader seems like the potential alternative, but he’s more of an unknown quantity. In 10 games in 2019, Shrader threw for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns along with 587 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Dual-threat capability akin to Eric Dungey is enough to make SU fans salivate, but Shrader hasn’t played QB in nearly two calendar years after he was switched to play wide receiver in 2020. In any event, he’s here to try and push DeVito to a higher level.
Head coach Dino Babers for his part says he embraces the competition and has yet to verbally commit to a starter. The decision might mark the biggest of his tenure as Syracuse head coach. Stick with an ailing DeVito too long or see a potential Shrader starting experiment fail, and Babers might feel the heat on his seat ratchet up even more. With a 24-36 career record, the time is now for Babers’ squad to show some life after Syracuse spent last season as veritable roadkill on the side of the ACC highway. Another terrible season could see the quality of SU recruits plummet and send the Orange into another dark age.
SU fans should know all too well about how personnel failures can cripple a program. Where might Syracuse be today if they hadn’t stuck with Greg Robinson for four seasons, for example? Likely not in a situation as tenuous as this. Whoever the quarterback is this fall, the burden of the program might be on his shoulders.