August 21, 2008

Position Breakdown: Safeties

The safety position was one that was criticized last year for being too slow. As a unit, they were beat many times, and the run support was only sub par. The Orange will lose Joe Fields from that group and also Dowayne Davis, who slid over to safety in certain circumstances.

During spring practice it appeared as if the starting safeties would be Bruce Williams and A.J. Brown. Bruce Williams was forced to slide over to wide receiver due to injury and A.J. Brown is getting a serious push from the underclassmen. Also, Paul Chiara moved over to safety in the spring as well.

So who will be the lucky two players that get the starting nod?

Here is a look at the candidates:

Sr. # 17 A.J. Brown
Sr. #34 Paul Chiara
So. # 24 Max Suter
So. # 20 Randy McKinnon
Rf. # 26 Kevyn Scott

A.J. Brown: Brown is the safety with the most experience on the roster. He has five interceptions in his career and he saw plenty of action the past two seasons. A.J. is a hard nosed player that Greg Robinson feels comfortable with. However, he does not have the speed of the younger players. He will most likely start out the season as one of the starting safeties.

Paul Chiara: Chiara saw limited action as a running back during his career at Syracuse, scoring a pair of touchdowns. In the spring he asked Greg Robinson if he could switch positions in order to see the field more. Whether or not it will pay off remains to be seen; but it is likely that the coaches will give him a shot on the field early on.

Max Suter: Suter is perhaps the Orange's most electrifying player when he has the ball in his hands on kickoff returns. His speed will earn him some time in the defensive backfield. Syracuse will have to use him against teams like West Virginia and South Florida if they hope to slow them down.

Randy McKinnon: As of right now, it appears as if McKinnon is on his way to earning one of the starting spots. The coaches say both safety spots are interchangeable, so this should help his cause. Randy played sparingly as a true freshman on special teams last year.

Kevyn Scott: Scott redshirted last season. Kevyn came from the new Syracuse pipeline St. Thomas Aquinas high school. He is the only one without any actual game experience, but has decent size at 5'11, 197 pounds.

Best of the Bunch: This has to be A.J. Brown. With so many young players in the backfield, the experience that he brings to the table is very valuable to the Orange.

Sleeper: Paul Chiara is a tough player that will not just fade away in the battle for a starting spot. While he may not end up winning one of the starting roles, he will find his way onto the field one way or another this season.

Overall Grade: C There may be a ton of potential in this unit, but like most units on this team, the players are still very raw. If some of the younger players end up stepping up, the Orange will be in very good shape by the end of the season. A.J. Brown, Randy McKinnon and Max Suter are the three players that should see the most time. Since the coaches treat the two positions as interchangeable, it will likely be a last minute decision as to who gets the starting nod at Northwestern.

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