Syracuse football begins practice today. Here are the players, position battles to watch

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse football begins fall camp Wednesday.
It’s been just over three months since the Orange’s spring game. A host of new talent joins the team from the transfer portal, junior colleges and the high school class of 2023. There are also players returning from season-ending injuries or time off for other reasons who will be back in the swing of things.
Here are the players and position battles we’re most interested in seeing play out in August.
QB Braden Davis
Davis is one of a handful of transfers that picked SU during the second transfer portal window after spring ball was done. As such, he’s one of the freshest faces at fall camp.
The Delaware native came back north from the University of South Carolina, where he’d committed in April 2021 ahead of his senior season at Middletown High School. Syracuse had not offered him at the time.
Asked about the addition of Davis to the quarterback room Tuesday, wide receiver Damien Alford seemed excited. He said Davis, like Garrett Shrader and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson, is a versatile quarterback.
P Jack Stonehouse & PK Brady Denaburg
Pressured into naming someone as “the equalizer” of his team after referencing the movie early in his Tuesday press conference, Dino Babers gave up two names: Stonehouse and Denaburg.
“I think they’re gonna be difference-makers,” Babers said. “I think they’re gonna be really good.”
Both guys were around for spring camp, but since it’s not often special teams players get center stage during practice, they’re always worth keeping an eye on.
Position battle: Cornerbacks
Isaiah Johnson, who earned a prized single-digit jersey number (No. 3) between spring ball and fall camp, has one of the starting cornerback positions down.
Who lines up opposite him remains to be seen, and there are a few options.
Jeremiah Wilson was on the depth chart last year as a reserve and appeared in 10 games at the position, according to Pro Football Focus. The game experience gives him a leg up at earning the other starting slot, but there are three others right behind him.
Quan Peterson, also in his second year with the team, made two appearances at CB last season, with one start.
Then there’s the pair of transfers Jaeden Gould (Nebraska) and Jayden Bellamy (Notre Dame). Neither saw game action at their previous schools, but they come from one of the most dominant high school programs in New Jersey. According to 247Sports, Gould is a four-star transfer and Bellamy is a three-star.
LB Stefon Thompson
Thompson was one of the first players to suffer a season-ending injury last year and certainly one of the biggest losses for the Orange. He’d been named to Phil Steele’s 2022 preseason All-ACC fourth team as SU’s second leading tackler behind Mikel Jones.
Though he was working out again on the exercise bike in the spring and was pictured doing strength and conditioning workouts this summer on SU’s social media, this is the first time Thompson will truly be on the field in a year.
Last week at ACC Kickoff, both Oronde Gadsden II and Marlowe Wax said Thompson was the player returning from injury they expected to have the biggest impact this season.
Syracuse linebacker Stefon Thompson (7) and former defensive back Garrett Williams (8), both injured at the time, leave the field Oct. 29 at the JMA Wireless Dome after the Orange’s loss to Notre Dame. Thompson returns to the Orange from injury this fall after nearly a year off recovering and rehabilitating his lower body injury. Dennis Nett |
Position battle: Offensive line
A better term for this might be a shakeout than a position battle, as in SU needs to shake out its purse full of offensive linemen and figure out where each fits best.
There seems to be clear answers based on who returns from last year’s depth chart and where some of the newcomers played at their previous spots.
That said, SU has, in recent years, been forced to cross-train their offensive linemen in order to maximize depth when injuries popped up.
With a bit more legitimate depth this year thanks to the Orange going hard after linemen in recruiting, it might be time to figure out where each player thrives and have them stick to that position.
QB Garrett Shrader
Both Shrader and coach Dino Babers have said at separate times that when the QB returned to the field, Shrader could be even better than he was last season following an offseason procedure on his throwing elbow.
Fall camp will show whether that was a correct prognosis.
The team will be keeping Shrader on a pitch count as a precaution, Babers said Tuesday, and gradually work him back up to taking all the snaps he would as starter.
RB LeQuint Allen
Allen has been away from the team all summer due to a suspension stemming from a fight last December. Allen and the university settled a lawsuit out of court last month, clearing the way for Allen to suit up this fall. He looked in good shape during his second annual LeQuint Allen Jr. Youth Football and Cheer Camp in Millville, New Jersey, over the weekend.
While he’ll miss a handful of practices — Allen will return to the team in mid-August — it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the young player. He attended all of spring camp, when he took the majority of first-string snaps. There might be a little bit of an adjustment period needed because it wasn’t Garrett Shrader he was paired in the backfield with this spring, but Shrader being a veteran should help ease some of that.

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