Dino Babers shares a key trait that makes Oronde Gadsden II similar to Matthew Bergeron, Zaire Franklin

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse football coach Dino Babers spoke at ACC media day in Charlotte on Tuesday, providing some insight into how the team selected captains and what wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II has in common with a pair of former players in the NFL.
Babers’ most interesting answer came when he was asked how often he’s brought a sophomore to ACC media day. Gadsden is in just his third year with the Orange and Babers, like most coaches, usually prefers to bring veterans to the event.
In addition to Gadsden, Syracuse’s three-player contingent included senior Garrett Shrader and fourth-year junior Marlowe Wax. One of the team’s three captains, Justin Barron, even remained behind in favor of Gadsden.
“You’re going to put me on the spot,” Babers said, when asked if he’d ever brought a sophomore to the event. “I can imagine I may have never brought a sophomore to this event. I’m not quite sure but I would bet that never is a good answer. Orande is different. He is older than his years. He was well-tutored before he got to us. He’s very mature about his work.
“When I think about him I think about (offensive lineman) Matthew Bergeron, who was the second-round pick of the Falcons. I think about Zaire Franklin, who was a seventh-round pick by the Colts and everyone said would be cut, and now he’s been captain for three straight years. I think about young men that came in older than their years. When you talk OG, those are the things you’re talking about at Syracuse University.”
The odds seem pretty good that, in another year, Gadsden will join them.
Babers’ other most interesting comments included:
Babers indicated that, without Matthew Bergeron and Sean Tucker, and in an effort to highlight the skills of Gadsden, the Orange could have a more pass-centric approach.
“It’s going to have to be a little different. When you lose someone of Sean Tucker’s caliber, and Matthew Bergeron was like the highest draft pick at Syracuse in like a decade, we’re going to have to be different. The receiving part of the team has really come along.
There are some guys that have made huge improvements. I’m visualizing them right now, and it’s plural. It’s not singular. We’re excited to see where we go with that group. I hope they’re listening. I hope they’re watching. I hope their parents are as well because that group has really improved, and I can’t wait to see it put on display on what they’re capable of doing and whether they’re willing and ready to match the challenge.”
- Babers attributed the Orange’s strong start and slow finish last season to a pair of factors. Along with playing a tougher schedule in the second half of the season, Babers said injuries hurt the Orange.
“It wasn’t so much the injuries it was who the injuries were. We lost seven of our 22 starters in the first six games. Before we kicked off midseason against Clemson, we lost seven starters before we kicked the ball off. These were seven bona fide fantastic players and leaders on the football team. It was not only the competition but the level of players we lost.
-- Syracuse has often started quickly and struggled at the finish since joining the ACC, struggling to build the depth that peer programs now. Babers said building that depth is more difficult now for programs across the country, given the frequency that players transfer.
“With the transfer portal and name, image and likeness and things like that, it’s really difficult to have a squad that’s 44, 50, 60 guys deep,” Babers said. “What normally happens is your good backups that aren’t playing go somewhere else. That’s what is happening to a lot of universities around the country. If you lose a fantastic guy, you might have good personnel behind him, but they just don’t have the experience or the body size and growth that’s needed. Those solid guys have already gone somewhere else.”
-- Babers displayed his personality, comparing Rocky Long’s energy level in the fall to the Marvel character Thor after he gets hit by lightning, and complimenting a reporter on a red-and-white Hawaiian shirt. He may have invented a new phrase in the process.
“First of all, you have a fantastic shirt,” Babers said. “I’m a little jealous of it. I could boat that thing. That’s for sure. That’s got my Aloha all over it.”

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