I continue my series called home run summer, where I present a player or players who have got to knock it out of the park with their preparations for the start of training camp in August.
Up today: Syracuse.
Who needs to step it up: The running backs.
Syracuse has a major hole in the backfield with the departure of Antwon Bailey, who ran for over 1,000 yards last season and made the Big East first team. Adonis Ameen-Moore missed the spring with an injury and only played in four games last season; Prince-Tyson Gulley also played in only four games last season; Jerome Smith is the top returning rusher with 134 yards and one touchdown. Steve Rene and Ashton Broyld were in the mix at the position this spring as well.
So who is going to step it up? Smith showed a few flashes during the spring, but the running game was pretty nonexistent in the spring game. Broyld could provide a spark to the running game, but the Orange are sure to use him at a variety of positions to take advantage of his speed and athleticism.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone has had a pretty reliable run game in each of his first three seasons. While the Orange may have lacked consistency and depth last season, Bailey did reach the 1,000-yard milestone. Indeed, Marrone has had a 1,000-yard rusher every year since he became head coach. The Orange don't rely too much on gimmicks on offense, and a power run game is critically important.
You can bet this position will be up for grabs once fall practice opens. Smith ended the spring No. 1 on the depth chart, but we'll see how Ameen-Moore does in his return from injury and how the Orange try and incorporate Broyld. Plus, there are some talented freshmen on the way. This should be an intriguing position to watch.