Sports SUmmary: Dino Babers talks spring football

Sports SUmmary: Spring season kicks off for Syracuse football

Babers details training and preparation for the 2021 season, as well as what he expects out of his players now.
Published: March 31, 2021
Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) during a game against Boston College on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) during a game against Boston College on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

After Syracuse football posted a 1-10 record last fall, the saying rings true that the team can only go up from there. Maybe that’s why Dino Babers has such a positive lookout on the upcoming season.

“We understand what happened last year, but that team has nothing to do with what this team is going to do,” said Babers in a press conference on Tuesday. “It is entirely a brand-new day.”

Babers discussed what he hopes to accomplish during the short spring season, when returning players and early incoming freshmen practice alongside each other for the first time. Further training for the season will ramp up in the summer, when the full roster of players has arrived on campus.

In the spring, he will focus on the fundamentals of the game for the incoming players and helping them adjust from the high school game to college play. The other side of spring ball is re-educating the returning members of the team who haven’t played a snap since December. Once he has a better grasp on the depth of his team, Babers will start to fill the holes left by players that graduated, transferred or declared for the NFL Draft.

Through it all, Babers is simply enjoying that Syracuse football has a spring season to prepare this year.

“The biggest thing about this year is that we didn’t have a spring last year – no team did. We have guys on our team that have game experience, which is valuable. But they haven’t had the skill set that they need to have [because] some of them were thrown out there out of necessity. Now it’s time to go back and give them the tool belt.”

Andre Cisco, Nolan Cooney ranked as top-10 prospects in Mel Kiper’s positional rankings

With the NFL Draft starting in less than a month, several former Syracuse players could have their names called out.

By the end of the 2020 season, Andre Cisco, Trill Williams and Ifeatu Melifonwu had all declared for the draft. Cisco was one of the first to opt for the professional route after tearing his ACL in the second game of the season.

Mel Kiper ranked Cisco fourth among safeties in ESPN’s positional prospect rankings. Cisco remains a top choice that could go in the first round, despite his stock slipping as the seasons at Syracuse went on.

Nolan Cooney ranked ninth among all kickers and punters thanks to his all-conference and honorable mention All-American honors this past season, impressive for a player who started as a walk-on.

Williams and Melifonwu were not ranked positionally, but they both have strong chances to be picked in the middle few rounds.

Quarterback David Summers enters transfer portal

In the midst of the news that more than half of the Syracuse women’s basketball team had entered the transfer portal earlier this week, the football team possibly losing one player seems relatively minor.

David Summers announced Monday, Mar. 29, that he would enter the transfer portal. Summers is a quarterback, but he did not see any game action through two seasons with the Orange.

There are no shortage of options at QB for Babers. Redshirt junior Tommy DeVito remains on the Syracuse roster, but will surely fight for the starting spot with Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader. The Orange also welcome true freshman quarterback Justin Lamson, who has already seen action in spring training, according to Babers.

Summers is not the first scholarship player to enter the transfer portal this offseason; he is just the most recent. He joins 10 other Syracuse players, including Nykeim Johnson and Aaron Hackett.