Sports SUmmary: Football players feel safe heading to UNC

Sports SUmmary: SU football players hope for safe start to season

Opening foe North Carolina has seen a spike in coronavirus numbers since students there started class.
Published: August 26, 2020
Head coach Dino Babers (left in white shirt) and his Orange football team prepares to run onto the Carrier Dome field prior to the Syracuse-Connecticut football game on Sept. 22, 2018
Head coach Dino Babers (left in white shirt) and his Orange football team prepares to run onto the Carrier Dome field prior to the Syracuse-Connecticut football game on Sept. 22, 2018.

Despite an unconventional offseason, Syracuse football is just two weeks away from kicking off its season against North Carolina, and concerns loom large about the coronavirus pandemic following newly released statistics from Chapel Hill.

UNC reported this week that 31.3 percent of students have tested positive for coronavirus in the first couple weeks of classes. While the campus-wide outbreak caused the school to revert to online-only classes, that’s not stopping the Tar Heels from hosting the Orange on Sept. 12 at the Kenan Memorial Stadium.

SU junior quarterback Tommy DeVito, junior wide receiver Taj Harris and junior defensive back Andre Cisco said Tuesday the SU squad trusts the coaching staff and the athletic department to lead them through the season safely.

“It’s definitely one of our concerns, and it’s been one of our concerns,” said Cisco, who was named to the AP preseason All-American team, regarding traveling safely to North Carolina. “With the amount of tests that they’re doing is where my confidence lies and I would hope that with efficient testing from each school, that we can prevent anything bad from happening when we get down there.”

Football players speak on quad gathering

Investigations continue into the large student gathering on the quad last week, and SU football players are speaking out on behavior that could cost them their season.

“We were not happy to see it,” said senior defensive end Kingsley Jonathan during a video call with reporters.

“When you have a bunch of people coming back on campus, there’s going to be some people who don’t follow the rules,” junior cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu reflected. “I didn’t expect it to happen this early, but I expected it to happen sooner or later.”

Athletic director contract extended through 2025

John Wildhack will remain in his role as the director of athletics at Syracuse University through mid-2025. Chancellor Kent Syverud last week announced that Wildhack would be with Syracuse’s Department of Athletics for the next five years, at least.

“He has elevated our program in many ways, on and off the playing fields, and inside and outside the classroom,” Syverud said in the announcement. “Our student-athletes are performing at the highest levels academically and athletically.

“That success is a testament to John’s leadership and the hard work and dedication of his great team of coaches and staff.”

In four years as the head of Syracuse Athletics, 42 teams have represented the university at national championship events and Wildhack has overseen the $118 million renovations on the Carrier Dome.

Griffin granted NCAA transfer waiver

SU basketball junior guard Alan Griffin has been deemed immediately eligible to play in 2020-21 after receiving a NCAA waiver for the transfer residence requirement following two standout seasons at Illinois.

During his sophomore season at Illinois, Griffin’s 3-point percentage (.416) was the best on the team. At SU, Griffin is expected to fill the hole left at the forward position by Elijah Hughes’ departure to enter the NBA draft.

“I’m very relieved to have that taken care of,” Griffin said about the waiver process. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I came to Syracuse.”

Undrafted Orange safety signs with San Francisco

Former Syracuse safety Evan Foster signed a three-year-deal with the San Francisco 49ers, the team announced last week.

From 2017-19, Foster was a three-year starter for Syracuse but entered NFL training camp as an undrafted free agent. Foster led the Orange secondary in tackles in three straight seasons, and completed 234 tackles through 46 games, the ninth most in team history for a defensive back.