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Transfer Portal Activity Reveals Syracuse Staff's Faith in Development of Young Defensive Linemen

Why hasn't the Orange offered more transfer defensive linemen?

One of the top positions Syracuse was expected to target in the transfer portal was the defensive line. The Orange lost all three starters from last year's squad, and therefore there appeared to be a need. However, Syracuse's activity with offering and pursuing transfer defensive linemen has been minimal. 

There have been a few offers, with the heaviest pursuit being for Albany transfer Jared Verse (who committed to Florida State). Outside of that, it has been rather quiet. The question is, why? The reason is quite simple, actually. There is faith from the Orange coaching staff in the development of its young players. 

Players such as Caleb Okechukwu, Terry Lockett, Steven Linton and Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff have all seen the field. Okechukwu was a key rotational defensive end last season, recording 21 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and a fumble recovery. Terry Lockett played in all 11 games, but got more and more snaps as the primary backup at defensive tackle as the season went along. He finished with 12 tackles and two sacks. 

Steven Linton has played in 15 games over the last two years, spending time at defensive end and linebacker. Fuentes-Cundiff appeared in just two games last season, but that experience is valuable. 

Those four, along with young talented players such as Chase Simmons, Jatius Geer and the incoming Francois Nolton and Denis Jaquez gives Syracuse a lot to work with. 

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Just like Syracuse brought along its young defensive backs, such as Ifeatu Melifonwu, Garrett Williams, etc., the same faith is provided to the defensive line. Trusting the talent identified during the recruiting process as well as player development within the program. 

Keep in mind, with the exception of Nolton and Jaquez, each has been in the program for at least a year. Practicing, participating in the strength and conditioning program, offseason workouts, etc. The staff has gotten a close look at each player. So the lack of a substantial number of offers suggests the staff likes what it sees. 

There is still a lack of experience, and adding a versatile player who could play tackle or end with that experience would benefit the group. Bringing in several players stunts their development. If you trust your talent evaluation and, to steal a Sean Tucker phrase, are pleased with their performances behind the scenes thus far, the approach taken makes a lot of sense. 

I still expect there to be an addition at some point. Perhaps one transfer portal player and maybe one other from the high school ranks. But most of the rotation will be what is there this spring. 

"We're training a new group of defensive line(men) that fans haven't seen," head coach Dino Babers said on ESPN Radio Syracuse. "But I can tell you based off of practice and what they did against our offensive line, that you're going to be really excited with some of the young people that you haven't got an opportunity to see."