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Syracuse’s wide receiver depth chart is still murky

first_imgIn every season Dino Babers has been the head coach of a football team, his offense has produced a 1,000-yard receiver.This season, the offense might again, but Babers said the identity of that guy for SU is a bigger mystery than it’s been the past two years.Unlike the past two seasons, where Amba Etta-Tawo and Steve Ishmael assumed the mantle of No. 1 receiver, Syracuse has unanswered questions about who will be the top target and the succession beyond.Throughout fall camp, a mix of lightly-seasoned veterans and talented freshmen competed for spots. But even with a Week 1 date against Western Michigan less than a week away, SU’s wide receiver hierarchy is murky.“We’re going to wait and see,” Babers said. “I’ve got my finger on them, but I’m not sure if it’s going to do any good.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn 2017, the Orange’s tandem of Ishmael and Ervin Philips hauled in 194 passes for 2,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. The returning options to fill that production are Devin Butler, Jamal Custis, Sean Riley and Nykeim Johnson.Butler led the four in production last season, notching 33 grabs for 327 yards and one score.“I think I’m just trying to get better at everything this point,” Butler said.Custis (120 yards and one touchdown), Riley (125 yards) and Johnson (68 yards) all caught eight passes each in 2017. Running backs Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal out-produced the three as pass catchers.Freshmen Anthony Queeley, Ed Hendrix and Taj Harris each has the prototypical 6-foot-plus tall frame of an outside receiver.“This is the most ready I’ve seen freshmen come in,” Custis said.“We’ve got some talented freshmen,” Babers said. “(We) want to see if anybody can make a move.”But without a collegiate body of work, it’s difficult to discern where the freshmen stand with respect to returning options — so if the uncertainty around the receiver position remains on Friday, tight end Ravian Pierce, Strickland and Neal will need to help in the passing game.Pierce is likely SU’s top pass-catching option going into Week 1. The tight end has a sure set of hands, moves well for his size — 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds — and caught four touchdowns a season ago. After SU’s Spring Showcase in April, when the wide receiver depth chart was still fuzzy, Babers remained optimistic. He was confident that someone would pop up over the summer, just like all the years before.But only 10 days before the season opener, Babers was still waiting for someone to emerge.“We’ve always had someone pop out and surprise everyone,” Babers said on Aug. 21, “and we’re hoping it happens for the third year in a row.” Published on August 26, 2018 at 9:23 pm Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Graham Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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