Two players who arrived at their respective teams as quarterbacks are set to make a bigger impact this season at a different position.
It is time to get to know Syracuse athlete Ashton Broyld and Cincinnati athlete Jordan Luallen. Both players spent the spring making the move to a more hybrid Wildcat/receiver/running back post.
The goal is clear. Both players are too good to keep tied to the bench behind somebody else. Their athleticism must be used for big plays.
"He’s a big, strong, fast, physical athlete," Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said of Broyld after the spring game. "We’re very fortunate to have him. I think he is going to be a great asset to us offensively. We just have to keep bringing him along, because he’s someone who can make a lot of plays."
"He’s one of the best athletes we have on our football team," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said of Luallen earlier this spring. "We’ve got to find a way to get him on the football field."
Luallen has actual game experience, having played last season when quarterback Zach Collaros got hurt. Jones decided he would play both Munchie Legaux and Luallen at quarterback. Both can run with the football, but Luallen's knack for making big plays was clear. He rarely threw the ball, but had 135 yards on 22 carries. He should have had two touchdowns on runs that ended at the 1 against Syracuse, but alas the turf monster struck. That is probably how most Big East fans remember him.
But Cincinnati coaches just remember his ability to make plays. That led to the decision to move him to receiver, where he is listed right behind Anthony McClung on the second team. Cincinnati struggled at receiver last season, and the Bearcats could no doubt use some big-play ability at the position, particularly because depth remains a concern.
But Luallen won't be limited to just receiver. Watch for him to still be able to run a few plays out of the Wildcat to keep teams off balance, at least. Particularly because the offense is going to have a new look with Isaiah Pead and Collaros gone.
As for Broyld, he arrived as an early enrollee this spring after spending last year at Milford Academy. Though Syracuse closed practices, much has been made about the role Broyld could have in the offense because of his versatility.
Broyld is listed as the No. 3 running back on the post-spring depth chart, but he played receiver and running back in the spring game.
He had some of the only offensive highlights in that game, as the offense fizzled for the most part. He could also be used as a Wildcat quarterback, in addition to his other roles. Syracuse has lacked a big-time playmaker the last several seasons. In fact, the offense has been somewhat predictable. Broyld gives the Orange something they have lacked for quite some time. Syracuse receivers averaged 10.5 yards per catch last season -- second-worst in the Big East behind Pitt (10.4).
That is just a little glimpse of their potential. Now we wait and see what these "slash" players can do.
Tale of the tape
Ashton Broyld, Syracuse
Stats: Threw for 427 yards on 31-of-56 passing and six touchdowns, and ran for 259 yards on 39 carries and six touchdowns in 2011 at Milford Academy. ... Was the 2010 New York State Class AA Player of the Year after leading Rush-Henrietta High to the Class AA State Championship and a 13-0 record. Passed for 1,961 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,540 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Jordan Luallen, Cincinnati
Stats: Went 2-for-4 for 10 yards, and rushed for 135 yards on 22 carries last season in a backup role with the Bearcats. He was forced to sit out 2010 after transferring in from Georgia Tech, where he redshirted as a true freshman in 2009. ... Rated the No. 22 quarterback recruit out of high school. Also won a state championship in 2008, Went 46-for-85 for 941 yards, two interceptions, and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 622 yards on 84 carries in the Wing-T offense as a senior.