Sixth-year senior Josh Black prepares for final home game against Pitt

Josh Black, Syracuse seniors prepare for final home game

The defensive lineman will look to add to his 36 tackles on Saturday against the Panthers.
Published: November 27, 2021
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Josh Black (85), pictured here against Liberty on Sep. 24, returned to Syracuse after the Orange went 1-10 last year.

Sixth-year senior Josh Black has been on the field, fortifying Syracuse football‘s defensive line since 2016. But last weekend, Black listened to the final whistle blow from the sideline with his arm in a sling.

In the first quarter of SU’s 41-17 loss to NC State, Black “got banged up in a certain weird way” and missed the rest of the game. Black said he plans to play on Saturday against No. 20 Pitt (9-2) at the Dome in his last home game with the Orange.

“Everything right now we’re just taking it day by day,” Black said. “But I don’t think there’s anything possible to keep me out of this game on Saturday. So, if I show up in a wheelchair with two slings on, I’m going to end up playing anyway. I plan on playing, personally.”

The Orange (5-6) would clinch bowl eligibility for the first time in four years with a win this weekend. Syracuse just lost in back-to-back weeks on the road to Louisville and NC State.

SU has also lost 10 players to the transfer portal since 2021 fall practice started. Black, a sixth-year senior defensive lineman, essentially did the opposite. He returned to Syracuse for a sixth year after the Orange went 1-10 in 2020. So, head coach Dino Babers appeared upset when Black was sidelined against the Wolfpack.

“(Black has) done so much for this program; you want him to have an opportunity to do the things he wants to do at the next level after graduation,” Babers said after the loss to NC State. “But when he goes down, he’s an emotional leader. He stayed on the sideline, he was a warrior and he kept talking to his position group trying to keep those guys up, so we really appreciate that.”

The defensive lineman said Babers has been “family” ever since he recruited Black in 2015. Sometimes, that relationship carries over to Twitter where Black is known to playfully connect with Syracuse football fans.

“Me and coach Babers always poke fun at each other, all the time, so when I saw that picture, I was like, ‘oh man,’ I had to clown him for that right there,” Black said. “I kind of look up to (Babers) as my dad right now, you know, being away from home. He’s the type of coach you can talk to about anything: real-life stuff, school, relationship drama, anything.”

“Josh Black is very tall. He would’ve been cut (blocked) a whole bunch of times and would’ve had ice on his knee,” Babers joked about Black’s tweet.

It’s a level of respect that coaches and teammates share for the Loves Park, Illinois, native — defensive captain Mikel Jones said Black showed up to practice on the Tuesday after his injury in full pads trying to get reps in.

And it’s a season where Black ranks tenth on the Orange defense in tackles (36) and second among the team’s defensive linemen. He’s bagged 156 tackles and nine sacks over his Orange career.

“It’s definitely going to be really emotional. Just being here for six years, going through all the ups all the downs, all the games we played in the Dome, all the scrimmages we’ve had,” Black said about playing in the Dome for the last time. “My time is running out. It’s about that time, finally.”