Syracuse went all the way to Oregon to find its new starting quarterback, not exactly in the Orange recruiting footprint.
But as coach Scott Shafer said, “We’ll go anywhere to find a good football player.”
So it came to be that Eric Dungey found out about Syracuse. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester watched some game tape and was so impressed, he showed it to Shafer. He was impressed, too. So Lester reached out, looking for Dungey.
He got Dungey's dad, Tim, instead.
“Is this Eric?” Lester asked once Tim Dungey answered the phone.
“No this is the real quarterback in the family, though,” Tim Dungey replied.
All jokes aside, Eric Dungey said that phone call came completely out of the blue. He was seriously looking at Yale and Harvard at the time. He knew more about Syracuse basketball than Syracuse football. But once he called Lester back, Dungey became more intrigued with Syracuse.
It helped that he made an immediate connection with Lester and Shafer. Once he visited the campus, he was sold.
“I’m glad they pursued me,” Dungey said in a recent phone conversation.
That pursuit has given Syracuse its new starting quarterback. For the second straight year, the Orange have a true freshman at the helm with Terrel Hunt being knocked out for the season. What stands out with the decision is that Shafer did turn to a true freshman – despite having two sophomores on the roster who played last season when Hunt went out.
That is how impressive Dungey was from the moment he arrived in July. What attracted Shafer to Dungey on that game tape was his athleticism, arm strength, release and ability to make plays with his feet. “Very difficult to tackle on his high school tape,” Shafer said.
All that was confirmed during fall practice, when Dungey outplayed Austin Wilson for the backup job despite being on campus for less than two months. But nobody anticipated Dungey’s time would be right now. Not after Hunt worked so hard in the offseason to get back and start his senior season.
Once Hunt got hurt, Dungey went in and calmly led the Orange. His first pass? A 32-yard touchdown toss to Ervin Philips.
“It was a shame seeing Terrel go down. He worked so hard,” Dungey said. “At first, I was shocked. I thought, ‘There’s no way this is happening.’ After that, I was nervous at first, but then I started to get more comfortable.”
Dungey finished 10-of-17 for 114 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 20 yards rushing. Shafer said nothing will change about the Syracuse offense with Dungey in charge – except for getting more reps in practice.
Of course, the challenge is much bigger this week. Wake Forest is a step above Rhode Island and has a defense that will have him in its sights.
“I’m just trying to be prepared,” Dungey said. “Trying to be as focused as I can and do everything I can do for my teammates and coaches.”