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Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Can Syracuse secondary be considered as DBU?

With the Orange losing Andre Cisco, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Trill Williams, there are lingering questions regarding who will replace talented, productive players. 

Garret Williams, 6’0, 180lbs, is an all around playmaker. Last season, the cornerback recorded 64 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 2 interceptions. Williams led the ACC in passes defensed with 12 last year. Williams was named a Freshman All American by The Athletic and received an All ACC Honorable Mention. Syracuse is hoping Williams will have another breakout year in which he will be recognized as one of the nation’s top defensive backs.

A nose for the football may be an understatement in the case of Ja’Had Carter. The hard hitting safety is heading into his second year with the Orange with intentions of setting the tone on defense. Carter started ten games as a true freshman last year, in which he finished second on the team with 67 tackles. Accompanying those 67 tackles last season were 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. As a safety, Carter is football savvy and situationally aware, as he caught an interception last year and before he got tackled he lateraled it back to Trill Williams which resulted in a touchdown. Syracuse is heavily relying on Carter to set the tone and bring more explosive plays to the defensive side of the ball this season.

The Orange welcomed a newcomer to the secondary this season in transfer Jason Simmons. His season at New Mexico State was canceled last year due to COVID-19. At New Mexico State, Simmons recorded 62 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. After a year off, Simmons should be extra motivated heading into training camp. He is expected to compete for a starting spot in the secondary.  

This season will be very important for Eric Coley. Coley is going into his Redshirt Junior year with intentions of making up for being sidelined with injury last year. In his career at Syracuse, Coley has played in 18 career games; recording 58 tackles, one tackle for loss, 3 pass breakups, and one interception. With Coley’s experience, Coley could be leaned on as a veteran leader on the field and in the locker room. 

On paper, the secondary is one of the deepest position groups for Syracuse this season. Players such as Adrian Cole, Neil Nunn, and Aman Greenwood provide for quality depth. 

As well as Ben Labrosse, Duce Chestnut, and Justin Barron. Each is expected to contribute significantly this season. Labrosse is from Canada and played a bit towards the end of last season. The coaching staff is high on him and he could earn a larger role this year. Chestnut was the highest ranked defensive incoming recruit from the 2021 class. He is extremely talented and it would not be a surprise if he earned a starting spot right away. Barron is transitioning from wide receiver to defensive back. He is extremely athletic and very long. 

Syracuse's boasts quality depth throughout the secondary entering the 2021 season.