AllSyracuse.com spoke with former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, who is on the Blues roster of The Spring League. The Spring League is a developmental football league for players looking for exposure and to provide film to professional leagues. We discussed a variety of topics with Dungey.
Q: How did you end up in The Spring League?
"My agent reached out to me and told me about this opportunity," Dungey said. "He was just saying that these other leagues such as the CFL and XFL probably are not going to be happening anytime soon. It's a great opportunity and it's coming soon too. It's only about seven or eight weeks but you can get six games in, maybe seven, get some film. That's the biggest thing is I need to get some film since I haven't played in a year and a half. I just want to go out there and show what I can do still. Opportunities are very slim now. This is a great opportunity for guys like myself who want to go and prove things."
Q: How have you stayed ready and continued to pursue your dreams of becoming a professional football player?
"A common misconception, obviously I went to the Giants and I was very grateful for the opportunity, I went as a quarterback/tight end but I was just in the tight end room. A 219-pound tight end in the NFL for the first year ever playing is not going to work out, especially when I've been playing quarterback my whole life. Unfortunately I was cut because I really didn't fit the tight end build. After that I got a great opportunity at Cleveland. I learned a lot just being in that room with Baker (Mayfield), Drew Stanton, Garrett Gilbert and those guys. Very smart, cerebral guys. I just kind of saw how they went about things for about 10 weeks. Just being in that atmosphere was an incredible experience.
"After that, the NFL came around and it was another great opportunity. I think it was a great league that was kind of gaining some traction and then the pandemic hit. It just went under because the whole world was on pause for a while. It was just unfortunate timing for that to occur from a playing standpoint. Other than that I've just been training every day, throwing, working out with a guy named Chris Miller who was a coach with the Houston Roughnecks. He used to coach me when I was younger. In sixth and seventh grade I used to go to his camps. He's been phenomenal for me. I've been focusing on my technique, focusing on my fundamentals. Really getting back to the basics."
Q: How did playing for Dino Babers help you grow as a quarterback?
"Coach Babers came in and from day one he demanded perfection," Dungey said. "That was a huge thing. He made it a very highly competitive place to be. He loves competition and I think he saw that I was a very competitive person. He brought the best out of me in that sense. That's why I always got a lot of respect for him because he's able to see what makes players tick and he gets the best out of them. He gets the highest performance out of them. For me, he saw that I loved to compete. He really went out of his way and took the time to teach me the ins and outs of the game. He always said by year three, you're going to running this offense at his level, he likes to say. He would say I'll never get to his level but I feel like I had a very, very solid understanding of it to the point where I was making some corrections on him. He probably won't ever admit that, but just go from there. That's how he was though. He wanted you to be perfect. He wanted you to know everything there was about the game. That's why they're going to be successful. They've just got to get back to the competitiveness inside the team, and I think that's what they've been doing especially with these offseason moves they've been making bringing in these new players."
Q: How difficult was it to deal with the firing of Scott Shafer?
"I was honestly very frustrated about that," Dungey said. "I would have never said that back in freshman, sophomore year. I was very frustrated. Fans, they expected Shafer to just turn the program around like that and also Babers to turn the program around like that. But you've got to understand you've got different pieces in different pieces. Shafer recruited us and if you look back freshman year, I think true freshmen had about 70% of the production on offense and 60 or 65% on defense. It was an incredibly young team and I think we went 4-8. At the same time, we were in games that we shouldn't have been winning and we would lose by a possession or two. I think we could've been very successful had we kept going. Build it piece by piece. But Babers coming in was another blessing just because that offense was so fun to play in. It was very successful. I was able to just play and show what you can do. I'll say the highest of highs for both coaches. I'm just very thankful to coach Shafer and coach Lester because they originally gave me my chance out of high school. They believed in me and saw what I could be."
Q: What does the fan support mean to you, even years removed from your time at Syracuse?
"I love Syracuse fans," Dungey said. "I've always said that they made 3,000 miles from Portland a home away from home. I'll always be grateful to the Syracuse community for the love they've shown me and the support they've given me. Obviously with this pandemic it's been so hard to get back to Syracuse, but when things do open back up and things kind of back to normal, I want to start doing a football camp there every summer. Just get more involved with the community because they showed me so much love. They really grew a part of my hear there and I'm forever grateful for the fans. Every day someone either on social media or reach out and I haven't played for two, three years there. And they're still reaching out showing love."
Q: What do you remember the most about your time at Syracuse?
"I think one is just the relationships I formed with my roommates," Dungey said. "Especially Kielan Whitner, Rex Culpepper, Ryan Guthrie. Those guys were people that are going to be around my life for the rest of my life. You grind with them every day. I remember Kielan for four years. We were with each other basically every day. He became like a brother to me. We'd have your little brother fights here and there just because you're living with him, but it was highly competitive. We had the same degree, we both got our accounting degree. It made us so much better. It's just the relationships I formed with them as well the community and what a community can do for you. I always dreamed about being the kid that everyone looked up to. That's what I got at Syracuse was making me feel like my dream. It's just an awesome community and an awesome experience."
Q: What have you been working on off the field?
"Off the field, I've been working part time for medical sales, my sister's company," Dungey said. "Just trying to stay busy and whatnot. For the most part I've just been training. Trying to stay fit and stay sharp for the next opportunity whenever that was going to come. The pandemic made everything so uncertain. You never knew what was going to be happening. You never know when it was going to start. I heard about The Spring League probably about four days ago and I had about a day to decide just because it's coming up so quickly. But you've got to take your opportunities when they come."