Sports SUmmary: SU football ready for season opener amid coronavirus opt-outs

Sports SUmmary: Top SU football players opt out of season before matchup against UNC

Familiar faces take on new offensive roles leading up to season opener against North Carolina.
Published: September 11, 2020
Junior Abdul Adams scores a touchdown for Syracuse in the game against The College of the Holy Cross.
Syracuse fans won't see any of Abdul Adams' touchdowns this year as the senior running back has opted out of the season due to coronavirus concerns.

Only days prior to the team’s opening matchup against North Carolina, Syracuse announced that running backs Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard have opted out of the upcoming season.

Adams and Howard were projected to be the team’s primary ball carriers in 2020, but neither participated in preseason training camp nor appeared on the team’s depth chart.

Adams toted the ball 87 times for 336 yards rushing and three scores as a junior and added 141 yards receiving. Howard, another piece of the 2019 backfield committee, rushed for 337 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore.

Stepping in for the Orange will be redshirt freshman Jawhar Jordan and redshirt junior Markenzy Pierre. Jordan appeared in four games in 2019 and posted 15 carries for 105 yards and 2 receptions for 87 yards, including an 81-yard reception against the University of Louisville. Pierre appeared in 12 games in 2019 for the Orange, primarily on special teams, and contributed 102 all-purpose yards.

In the team’s press conference Tuesday night, quarterback Tommy DeVito spoke highly of Jordan and Pierre. He said that they brought an element of surprise to the offense and complimented their work-ethic.

“Those two guys, I know they’ve been working their butt off the whole summer and whole fall camp,” DeVito said. “They’ve earned the trust and respect of everybody on the offense, so I have all of my trust in them.”

Babers said that opt-outs have been kept internal to avoid competitive advantages for opponents. No further information has been released by head coach Dino Babers at this time. Other players who decided to sit out include projected starting linebacker Tyrell Richards and defensive lineman Copper Dawson.

Markenzy Pierre, shown here during the 2018 Spring Football Showcase, will step into a starting position following player opt-outs this week.

DeVito expresses confidence in team

Looking to build on a solid first season at the helm of SU’s offense, quarterback Tommy DeVito said he plans to expand his squad’s capabilities by taking more chances in the passing game.

“Obviously we want to take care of the ball, but part of this offense is driving a fast car and pushing it to the limit,” DeVito said Tuesday. “We’re just getting the ball into our playmakers’ hands and letting them work.”

DeVito, who threw for 2,360 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions last year, said that he added weight to his frame this past offseason to withstand the punishment of a full ACC college football season, as well as bettering his understanding of defensive schemes.

As for SU’s own defense, the linebacking corps lost an experienced contributor with senior Tyrell Richards’ decision to sit out this upcoming season.

Defensive back Andre Cisco said Tuesday that the unit would gain more cohesion with time and their coachability and athleticism would overcome their inexperience.

Cisco’s 12 interceptions entering the 2020 season are the most of any active player in the FBS, and he is second in the country with 1.27 pass break-ups per game, according to Cisco operates as a hybrid linebacker/safety for the Orange, commonly known as a rover.

Offensive lineman Airon Servais enters his senior season against North Caorlina on Saturday and said that his role as a vocal leader for the team has expanded this season. He said that the team is comfortable as a unit and ready for any surprises thrown their way by the uncertainty of the season.

SU alumni land roster spots across NFL

With the conclusion of NFL training camps and the impending start of the 2020 season, active rosters across the league were trimmed to 53 players. Numerous former Syracuse standouts found themselves on active rosters or expanded practice squad rosters for the season.

Longtime NFL starters Chandler Jones and Justin Pugh of the Arizona Cardinals are expected to start once again for the team in 2019, according to ESPN. Jones, an edge rusher and three-time Pro Bowl selection, was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Pugh, an offensive lineman, was taken in the first round in 2013.

Punters Riley Dixon and Sterling Hofrichter made the active rosters for the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons respectively. Dixon was drafted by the Giants in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Hofrichter, a 2019 graduate, was selected in the seventh round in 2020 Falcons.

Defensive tackle Alton Robinson joined the Seattle Seahawks as a fifth round pick in 2020 and was named to the active roster. Linebacker Zaire Franklin was retained by the Indianapolis Colts, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2018. Wide receiver Trishton Jackson joined the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent this offseason.

Joining practice squads around the league were linebacker Evan Foster (Cardinals), offensive lineman Koda Martin (Cardinals) and defensive tackle Chris Slayton (Giants).

ACC unveils Fall Olympic Sports schedules

Syracuse Olympic sports athletes from cross country, field hockey, volleyball, and men’s and women’s soccer will be allowed to participate in conference games following a schedule released by the ACC.

The cross country season will run from Sept. 11 to Oct. 24, with seven weeks of meets. The ACC Championships will be Oct. 30, at WakeMed Soccer Park, located in Cary, N.C. All 15 women’s and all 15 men’s teams will receive an invitation.

An official schedule has yet to be released, but the men’s team looks to defend its ACC title as the No. 2 ranked team, and the women’s team ranked No. 4 in the ACC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

The field hockey team will play six games from through Nov. 1, hosting Duke on Sept. 18, at J.S. Coyne Stadium. The ACC Championship will include all seven teams starting Nov. 5, at Duke’s Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.

The team returns all but one starter and was ranked No. 6 in the field hockey Preseason ACC Coaches’ Poll.

Women’s soccer kicks off the season against Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, and will play nine games. The top eight teams will be invited to the ACC Tournament beginning Nov. 10, with quarterfinal matchups.

Men’s soccer is scheduled to play from Sept. 10 to Nov. 8, and the Orange face the Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 18. The conference was divided into the North and South Regions with Syracuse in the former. The top four teams from each region will compete in the ACC Tournament starting Nov. 15.

Beginning with a home game against Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, the volleyball team will play eight games until the end of the regular season on Oct. 25. The 15 teams were split into three regions, and each team will play its four region opponents twice. No postseason schedule has been announced.