This offseason was a critical one for the Syracuse football program, and the Orange has done about as good of a job as any could have hoped. Here is a look at Syracuse's offseason to date.
The Syracuse coaching staff underwent significant change this offseason, and in each case it appears the Orange has made strong moves on paper. The totality of the modifications gives Syracuse perhaps its best overall staff during the Dino Babers era. Gone was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sterlin Gilbert along with a few assistants. In are offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck. Both Anae and Beck have impressive resumes that include the development of quarterbacks. They are highly respected coaches that were great hires for the Orange.
An area of weakness during the 2021 season was special teams. That was largely due to the lack of a special teams coordinator. Syracuse hired Bob Ligashesky in the offseason to be its new special teams coordinator. Ligashesky brings a wealth of special teams experience at the both the collegiate and professional levels. Another well respected coach with a history of success.
Recently, the Orange added Michael Johnson as its wide receivers coach. Johnson is highly regarded within the coaching community, has coached tight ends, wide receivers, quarterbacks and been an offensive coordinator. He has experience at the collegiate and professional levels as well. Another very strong hire.
Then there was some movement with coaches already on staff. Chris Achuff slid from linebackers to defensive line with defensive coordinator Tony White taking over the linebackers. Achuff has a wealth of experience as a defensive line coach in college and the NFL. Assistant Nick Monroe was given a new title of defensive passing game coordinator/safeties. Assistant Mike Schmidt was also promoted to offensive line/run game coordinator. Both were well deserved promotions.
All moves that make sense and give Syracuse its best chance for a winning season in 2022.
Two of Syracuse's best players with eligibility remaining were considering turning pro. Linebacker Mikel Jones was fresh off of an All ACC First Team season while cornerback Garrett Williams is highly regarded as one of the best cover corners in college football. Both tested the waters, but elected to come back for the 2022 season. This is a huge boost for an Orange defense that finished 19th in total defense in 2021.
On top of that, new special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky was able to convince kicker Andre Szmyt to come back with the hope that Szmyt can return to his pre-2021 form.
All three are huge for Syracuse's 2022 roster.
Syracuse signed 13 players during the early signing period. However, the class was missing something. A headliner. Syracuse got that in All American Bowl defensive lineman Francois Nolton. The former Florida commit has as impressive an offer list as it gets including several blue blood programs. He had 25 sacks during his senior season, has already enrolled and has a strong chance to be an instant contributor.
In addition, the Orange has done a nice job adding key pieces from the transfer portal. Syracuse added a quarterback to provide competition for Garrett Shrader in Dan Villari. Cornerback Alijah Clark came over from Rutgers. Safety Bralyn Oliver picked the Orange after flipping from Oregon State as a transfer from Louisville. Former Michigan State wide receiver CJ Hayes is looking to give Syracuse a true number one option in the passing game. Running back Juwaun Price provides a strong backup to Sean Tucker with the potential to become the feature back in 2023.
Each is an addition to an area of need. Each provides depth, talent and competition. With the exception of Hayes, each has multiple years of eligibility remaining.
This has been a tremendous offseason to date for Syracuse football. The additions to the roster and coaching staff should have Syracuse fans excited about the possibilities for the 2022 season.