NCF Nation: Ashton Broyld

Syracuse Orange season preview

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
10:30
AM ET
» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Syracuse Orange:

Key returners: QB Terrel Hunt, RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, WR Ashton Broyld, LT Sean Hickey, LG Rob Trudo, DT Eric Crume, LB Dyshawn Davis, LB Cameron Lynch, CB Brandon Reddish, S Durell Eskridge

Key losses: RB Jerome Smith, C Macky MacPherson, LB Marquis Spruill, DT Jay Bromley, CB Ri'Shard Anderson, S Jeremi Wilkes

Most Important 2014 games: Sept. 27 vs. Notre Dame (in East Rutherford, New Jersey), Oct. 3 vs. Louisville, Nov. 8 vs. Duke, Nov. 22 at Pitt, Nov. 29 at Boston College

Projected win percentage (from ESPN Stats & Information): 51 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 5.5

[+] EnlargeTerrel Hunt
AP Photo/Phil SearsTerrel Hunt passed for 1,638 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He added another 500 yards rushing with seven touchdowns on the ground.
Instant impact newcomer: John Miller best fits this bill, as he is a junior college transfer who saw just limited time last season, his first with the Orange. Now the former Los Angeles Harbor College player looks to build off a spring that saw him emerge as one of the team's most improved players and as a leader on offense. Miller is the front-runner to start at center for Syracuse and should allow others around him to stay in their natural positions.

High point from 2013: Terrel Hunt hit Josh Parris for an 8-yard touchdown pass with six seconds left in the regular-season finale to top rival Boston College 34-31 and earn win No. 6. This was a major boost for Syracuse, which ended up beating Minnesota in the Texas Bowl to finish 7-6 in Year 1 of both the Scott Shafer and the ACC eras. It might have been a watershed moment for Hunt, too, as he enters 2014 looking to take the next step as a leader of this offense.

Low point from 2013: Losing big to heavyweights Florida State and Clemson is one thing. But a 56-0 loss at Georgia Tech, a team that went just 7-6 and enters 2014 with major questions, is pretty much inexcusable. It stands out even more considering the Orange entered the game coming off a win at NC State and won two straight contests right after the Atlanta trip. (It also stands out after Shafer made his thoughts known about Atlanta winters, and after the Twitterverse replied as the Twitterverse is wont to do.)

Best-case scenario for 2014: Hunt evolves as a passer and as a runner, orchestrating an offense that has made it known it would like to push the tempo in 2014. Unlike last year, the Orange enter the season knowing who their No. 1 quarterback is, and that proves beneficial as they race out to an early 3-0 start. The front seven steps up and Syracuse is able to steal a win during a tough three-game stretch against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State, emerging on the other end ready to tackle a final month that concludes with road contests at former Big East foes Pitt and BC. Syracuse improves in Shafer's second season, hitting his goal of at least eight wins, and the future looks bright for a program looking to emerge as a legitimate No. 3 team in a top-heavy Atlantic division behind FSU and Clemson.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Hunt struggles to command the offense with more responsibility, the defense can't seem to make up for the loss of Bromley up front and the Orange get eaten alive by a tough schedule. A trip to Wake Forest provides a reprieve during a five-game stretch that features the aforementioned teams above plus Clemson on the other end. No matter, though, as a physically beaten team staggers into the final month with only NC State as a winnable game. Syracuse wins four games, its worst season since Doug Marrone's inaugural 2009 campaign.

They said it: "I was happy with the way we finished the season. I thought both Terrel [Hunt] and the wide receivers did a nice job finishing up with the victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl, but we need to take it to the next level to get to the next level. We're always going to really work hard to run the football. I believe in running the football, I believe in stopping the run. I think that's where it starts with our philosophy. But in this day and age, you've got to be able to open it up, and we put the onus on our passing game, our wide receivers, to take their game up." -- Shafer, on the passing game becoming more explosive
Duke has become one of the favorites to repeat as Coastal Division champions for several reasons.

Here is one of the biggest: Duke is the only team in the ACC to return its leading passer, rusher and receiver from a year ago. The Blue Devils return their top two leading tacklers, too.

[+] EnlargeJamison Crowder
Ellen Ozier/USA TODAY SportsDuke returns 72 percent of its offense, including leading receiver Jamison Crowder.
In all, Duke returns 72 percent of its offense. Only Virginia returns more in the ACC, though the Hoos are changing quarterbacks and only produced two wins with virtually the same players a season ago. Plus, their offense took a hit in the offseason when leading receiver Jake McGee decided to transfer.

What should give Duke an edge is the veteran experience and leadership it will have with returning quarterback Anthony Boone, receiver Jamison Crowder and rusher Josh Snead -- all seniors. Crowder is the headliner of the group, after catching an ACC-record 108 passes a year ago for 1,360 yards. He needs just 1,153 yards to set the school and ACC career receiving yards record.

Snead will once again split carries in the backfield -- the way Duke has done in recent history -- though some depth does have to be developed at the position. Boone will share some of the load at quarterback as well, but there will be much more placed on his shoulders with the departure of Brandon Connette.

That is where the Blue Devils lose the largest percentage of their offense -- 25 percent out of the 28 percent that is gone. Losing Connette means losing 14 of the team's 28 rushing touchdowns from a year ago, along with 1,212 passing yards and perhaps the most reliable backup quarterback in America. Thomas Sirk is expected to contribute, but it is too early to say what exactly his role will be once the season begins.

Still, Duke is the only team in the league with its offensive nucleus intact, an offense that -- by the way -- ranked No. 3 in the ACC. Florida State nearly does with Jameis Winston and Rashad Greene back. Though the Seminoles lose leading rusher Devonta Freeman, they believe Karlos Williams will be able to step right in and fill those shoes. Several other teams return two among their top passers, rushers or receivers: Pitt (RB James Conner, WR Tyler Boyd), Syracuse (QB Terrel Hunt, WR Ashton Broyld), Virginia Tech (RB Trey Edmunds, WR Willie Byrn) and Louisville (RB Dominique Brown, WR DeVante Parker).

Of these teams, only Syracuse returns 70 percent or more of its offense. Still not quite as much as Duke.
video
It was a little too much like last season: Minnesota leading late in the Texas Bowl. Plenty of hope. Critical breakdowns. And an eventual loss. The only difference this year was the opponent -- Syracuse.

The Gophers led 17-14 with just more than two minutes remaining in the game, after having clawed back from a 14-3 fourth-quarter deficit. But a 70-yard punt return from Brisly Estime set the Orange up for a touchdown and a four-point lead with just more than a minute remaining.

Minnesota wasn’t able to respond, and like its previous 20 games under Jerry Kill when the Gophers trailed at halftime, Minnesota lost. Syracuse walked away with the win, 21-17.

It was over when: Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner’s Hail Mary fell incomplete out of bounds at the 1-yard line. It was just the second game this season that the redshirt freshman had attempted at least 20 passes, and his final two heaves toward the end zone both looked as though they might be good. But on the final play, Syracuse dropped most of its defense deep, ready for the prayer of a pass, and Minnesota just didn’t have enough luck left to pull off the win.

Game ball goes to: Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt. The sophomore put together one of his most impressive games this season, accounting for 262 yards (188 passing, 74 rushing) and two of the Orange’s three touchdowns. The Minnesota defense just couldn’t really find much of an answer to his dual-threat capabilities, and he looked like an even better version of the QB who led Syracuse impressively through November.

Stat of the game: 13 consecutive scoreless quarters or 195 minutes -- the streak of the Gophers being held out of the end zone. But against Syracuse early in the fourth quarter, Minnesota ended that drought, as Leidner first found Maxx Williams for a 20-yard TD and then connected with Drew Wolitarsky for a 55-yard score.

Back-and-forth affair: Syracuse's 7-3 halftime lead seemed solid. But when it took a two-score lead in the third quarter against a Minnesota offense that hadn't shown any signs of life, it seemed as though the game might as well be over. But the Gophers came back kicking only to eventually be kicked once more. It was a game worth watching until the end, because that's when most of the action really was worth watching.

What Syracuse learned: This offense could really develop in the next few seasons in the ACC. With two more years in this offense, Hunt could become quite the player. His arm and feet looked reliable, and with his athleticism, he seems like he isn’t close to his ceiling. On top of that, Syracuse’s top three receivers -- Estime, Ashton Broyld and Jarrod West -- will all return next year.

What Minnesota learned: The QB competition is (and should be) open at Minnesota. Philip Nelson has had the advantage with the more reliable arm, but Leidner stepped in and threw Minnesota’s first passing touchdowns in months. Both played against Syracuse, but the offense looked the best with Leidner, and that's what Kill chose to go with when the game was on the line.

Best moment of the game: Kill returning to the sideline for Minnesota. He came down during halftime and decided to stay for the second half. He hadn’t coached from the sideline since September and since he had taken a leave from coaching to focus on his health. But it was nice to see Kill enjoying himself on the sideline again.

To watch the trophy presentation of the Texas Bowl, click here.

ACC's spring position battles

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
2:11
PM ET
There are going to be position battles this spring at every school in the ACC, but some will be in the spotlight more than others. If you’re just tuning in to ACC football, here are some of the biggest competitions in the conference this spring:

OFFENSE

1. Florida State quarterback: This is arguably the most intriguing competition in the entire conference, as the Seminoles have to replace veteran EJ Manuel. Clint Trickett enters the spring at the top of the depth chart, but consider this job open. Sophomore Jacob Coker is the total package, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and could be the answer, too.

2. North Carolina running back: The Tar Heels have to find a way to replace leading rusher Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL draft. Not only will his loss be felt in the running game, but probably even moreso in the return game, as Bernard was one of the nation’s top punt returners. UNC returns A.J. Blue and Romar Morris, who combined for 819 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

3. Syracuse quarterback: The Orange enter the ACC with a new coach and in need of a new quarterback. Record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib is gone, leaving behind a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.

DEFENSE

1. Florida State defensive ends: The cream of the crop is gone, as Tank Carradine, Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins all have to be replaced. Enter Mario Edwards Jr., who has a leg-up on the competition because he played in 11 games as a true freshman, and started the final two games of the year in place of the injured Carradine. Don’t forget about Giorgio Newberry, though, and Chris Casher, who is now healthy after a knee injury. Casher will start spring ball on the two-deep depth chart. Dan Hicks, who was Jenkins’ backup two years ago, had a knee injury and missed all of last season. He had moved to tight end, but was in the rotation at defensive end earlier in his career and could come back.

2. NC State secondary: This group will have an entirely new look this spring, as three starters have to be replaced, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.

3. Virginia Tech cornerback: Virginia Tech’s defensive backfield lost its star last month when cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game. Several young players will compete for his reps this spring, including Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes. Highly touted cornerback Kendall Fuller will join the team in the summer.
The ACC’s crop of 2013 quarterbacks will be an interesting blend of old and new. Veterans Logan Thomas and Tajh Boyd both decided to return for their senior seasons instead of leaving early for the NFL draft, but several big names -- like EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon -- will be missing. Here’s a quick rundown of the position heading into the 2013 season:

IN GREAT SHAPE

CLEMSON: Boyd returns. The record-setter should be a Heisman candidate, considering he led the ACC in passing efficiency, was second in passing average/game, and threw for 36 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions.

MIAMI: Stephen Morris returns. Morris should be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, and he might have the best offensive line in the conference to work with. Last season, Morris started all 12 games and threw for a career-best 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns, completing 58.2 percent of passes. He set the school single-season total offense record with 3,415 yards.

NORTH CAROLINA: Bryn Renner returns. He was No. 3 in the ACC last season in passing average per game (279.7), and he was No. 3 in passing efficiency. He finished with 3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

VIRGINIA TECH: Thomas returns. This was a huge boost to the Hokies’ offense. Thomas has started the past 27 games for the Hokies, passing for 6,096 yards and 37 touchdowns, and running for 1,015 yards and 20 scores.

WAKE FOREST: Tanner Price returns. He threw for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, and he’ll be helped by the fact that standout receiver Michael Campanaro returns. Price completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards.

IN GOOD SHAPE

VIRGINIA: Phillip Sims returns, but Michael Rocco transferred. Sims is the most likely starter, but how much playing time will David Watford see? While sharing time with Rocco last season, Sims finished with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,263 yards.

MARYLAND: C.J. Brown, who tore his ACL before the start of the 2012 season, is the most likely starter. This position can only get better for Maryland in 2013, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback last season. He started five games in 2011, but this would be his first full season as starter.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Senior Chase Rettig returns. He started all 12 games last season, completed 54.2 percent of his passes, threw for 3,065 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The reason BC isn’t in the “great shape” category is because Rettig will have his 103rd offensive coordinator. The good news is that Ryan Day is a former BC offensive assistant, so it’s not like they just met.

DUKE: Veteran Sean Renfree has to be replaced. Anthony Boone isn't a rookie, but this will be his first season as a full-time starter. Boone has had the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks on the roster, including Renfree. Boone played in 11 games in 2012, completed 51.6 percent of his passes (49 of 95) for 531 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

COMPETITION IS ON

FLORIDA STATE: Manuel must be replaced. Clint Trickett is the leading candidate heading into the spring, and he has the edge in experience, but he will compete with Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. Trickett started two games in 2011, filling in for the injured Manuel, but this past season he only threw the ball 34 times. Coker played in four games and threw it five times.

GEORGIA TECH: Tevin Washington must be replaced. Vad Lee is the front-runner heading into the spring, but Justin Thomas will give him plenty of competition. Lee didn’t start any games in 2012, but he got plenty of meaningful snaps and ran for 544 yards and nine touchdowns, and threw for 596 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

NC STATE: Glennon must be replaced. This position is a huge question mark for the Pack, especially considering the program has gone through a staff change, with Dave Doeren taking over. Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the front-runners heading into spring ball. Stocker threw the ball just twice in 2012 as a true freshman, and Thomas has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2012 season per NCAA rules because he transferred from Colorado State.

PITT: Panthers fans rejoined when the final seconds ticked off the clock in the BBVA Compass Bowl because they won't have to watch Tino Sunseri play another down. Sunseri did start for three seasons, but this program is looking for a major upgrade at the position. Competition in the spring should focus on transfer Tom Savage, a former Freshman All-American, and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, a four-star recruit from the class of 2012.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, who just had the best single-season passing year in school history. They thought they had an incoming stud in Zach Allen, but the Texas recruit de-committed after coach Doug Marrone left for Buffalo, and Allen pledged to TCU. That leaves the job wide open in the spring between backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
Syracuse is not at the Big East spring meetings, but I did have a chance to catch up with coach Doug Marrone at the ACC meetings on Amelia Island. One quick note before I get to the Q&A. I asked Marrone for an injury update, and he said he would provide one as fall practice gets closer. So still no answers on when many of his key players will be back. Stay tuned.

We have heard a lot this spring about Ashton Broyld. Describe what makes him so special.

[+] EnlargeAshton Broyld
SportsAge/Icon SMIThe Orange are excited about the versatility Ashton Broyld can bring to the offense.
Doug Marrone: He’s an outstanding athlete. In my time there, I haven’t had many players who have possessed that type of talent level. From that standpoint he’s going through his first spring. So we are looking to find ways to get him involved because he’s someone that can make plays and has that ability. We have to do a very good job of finding ways of making sure how we insert him into our offense moving forward. But it’s a good problem, not a bad problem.

He was listed as a running back on the depth chart. Will he stay there or be used in a variety of ways like receiver and quarterback?

DM: We’re open to all those plans, so again a lot of it is based on the type of productivity we can get from him in what areas or what positions or where it may be on the offense and how we progress him and how much he can or cannot handle. It’s a matter of what the other people are able to do at the positions around him to put him where it’s best needed for us to score more points.

One of the problems that has plagued you guys has been inconsistency on offense. How will you be better this season?

DM: We changed a lot of things offensively in what we’re doing and the reason why we’ve done that is to be able to create that type of consistency. When you look at it, we did a very good job in just one area of third down; we led the Big East in third-down conversions. Well why was that successful? Those are the questions we asked ourselves, and then trying to take that philosophy and putting it into what we do offensively to have that type of consistency. We’ve gone forward in looking to make some changes, to become a better football team and that’s what we did this spring.

What was the biggest thing you learned about the way last season went?

DM: I think obviously we’re all disappointed, being in a good position, at 5-2 and not being able to turn that around and creating more wins always leaves a bad taste not only for coaches and fans and administrators but players and everyone involved in the program. For us, it was to go ahead, create a level of expectations for us so we can remain and do a better job during the year. A lot about character is how you respond to that. We have to do a better job, starting with me. Responding to that adversity and being able to move forward.

Ryan Nassib took some steps forward last year. What does he need to do to become an elite quarterback?

DM: I just think we need him to do what we plan on him doing. We don’t need him to go the extra mile and push so hard on himself. He’s a very competitive person. We have to make sure we have the right people in place around him for us to be successful. You look at all the offenses, whether it’s the NFL or college football. There are other people around making plays. For us to succeed offensively, we have to make more plays. We’ve generated more yardage but not at a rate we would probably like to but we haven’t generated more yards per play and that’s what’s keeping us back. We’re hoping with some of the changes we’ve made that we’re able to open it up and do some things where we have from a percentage standpoint the ability to make bigger plays per play. We have to make more plays, whether that’s at the quarterback position, running back position, tight end, receiver. We have to generate more plays.
Time for my long-awaited post-spring power rankings. I made only a few changes from the pre-spring rankings. Here goes ...

1. Louisville: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked better than ever this spring, giving me renewed confidence the Cardinals are going to be the preseason favorite in the league. The secondary should be exceptionally strong, and the offensive line should be better. Questions remain at running back and with depth in the front seven. But of all the teams in the league, I think the Cardinals have the most stability headed into the season. Plus, it hugely helps to have Charlie Strong entering Year 3.

2. USF: Big jump for the Bulls. I know I said I refused to buy into USF until the Bulls actually do something. But what they have returning is hard to ignore. Generally speaking, teams with 18 returning starters -- many of them seniors -- do really well. So do teams with veteran starting quarterbacks. While USF still has some major question marks on paper -- can B.J. Daniels develop, what happens at running back, where is the depth at linebacker -- the Bulls look like they have a shot.

3. Rutgers: At one time, I had Rutgers as my preseason favorite. But I am a little nervous about the situation at quarterback. I thought there would be a resolution this spring, but neither Chas Dodd nor Gary Nova did much to impress. Mohamed Sanu is gone, there are more shifts on the offensive line, and the running game has to prove something. I think the defense will be the best in the Big East. The offense is scaring me right now, which is why I moved the Scarlet Knights down.

4. Cincinnati: The Bearcats do return talent, and players who saw some significant action last season. But they also lose 21 seniors, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year Isaiah Pead and Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe. I don't have any doubts that the Bearcats will have a good season. I just don't know if they will win another championship.

5. Pitt: If there is any team with "ifs" all over the roster, it is the Panthers. They have a new head coach. They are returning Tino Sunseri at quarterback. Nobody knows how Ray Graham is going to do after major knee surgery. The offensive line has to be better. There is not much depth on the defensive line. If all of these come together, the Panthers could be really good. If they don't, they could be really bad.

6. UConn: The Huskies will be good on defense. But what about quarterback? I feel like a broken record saying the same thing over again. Quarterback uncertainty always makes me hesitant to rank a team in the top half of the league. I was hesitant last year, and I am hesitant again this year.

7. Syracuse: I have said this before, but it bears repeating: I think Syracuse is the hardest team to gauge in the Big East. The Orange have to be more consistent on offense. They have to find a running game to help ease some of the burden off quarterback Ryan Nassib. Does Ashton Broyld give them enough to get them more explosive plays? The defense still has depth concerns in the front seven.

8. Temple: I worry about how the Owls will make the transition to the Big East in Year 1. I think Temple has a good team, but the Owls also lost a lot of their best players and have depth concerns on the offensive and defensive lines. That is enough to worry any coach in Year 1 in a major conference.
With the season coming into view, let's take a look at what we learned in the Big East this spring.

1. Running backs have to prove themselves. Isaiah Pead is gone. Antwon Bailey is gone. Ray Graham is coming off a serious knee injury. There are some major question marks at virtually every Big East school at this position headed into the fall. Chief among them -- how does Graham do a year removed from ACL surgery? How do Cincinnati, Syracuse and Louisville spread the ball to their various running backs? How does Temple replace the production of Bernard Pierce? Does Savon Huggins improve on his injury-shortened freshman season at Rutgers? How is Lindsey Lamar used in the backfield at USF? Can Lyle McCombs repeat as a 1,000-yard rusher for UConn?

2. Next sack leader? The Big East generally has some of the top leaders in sacks in the country. Last year, it was Trevardo Williams and Aaron Donald who emerged to finish in the Top 10. The year before, it was first-year Big East player Bruce Irvin. So who is the next Big East player to lead the charge? USF defensive end Ryne Giddins, Cincinnati defensive end Walter Stewart and UConn tackle Ryan Wirth all had terrific springs so keep those names in mind as the season begins.

3. Earth to offense. We had an inkling that the Big East defenses would be way ahead of the offenses this spring, and that all came to fruition once the spring games were played. Defenses essentially dominated at nearly every school. Syracuse did not score a point on offense; UConn had two total offensive touchdowns; USF quarterback B.J. Daniels went 9-of-26 for 88 yards in the Bulls' spring game; Chris Coyer and his receivers struggled in the Temple spring game; and the Pitt passing game was just so-so in its final scrimmage. While it is true defenses are usually ahead of the offenses in the early going of practices, it is obvious most every offensive unit needs to get much better this offseason.

4. Bridgewater: Rising star. It was apparent that Louisville had a special player in Teddy Bridgewater last season. But worries about a potential "sophomore slump" have been temporarily put to rest after the spring he had. Bridgewater was stellar in the spring game, going 19-of-21 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Afterward, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said that Bridgewater completed about 70 percent of his passes in the spring. "I know he's been lights out," Watson said. "He's really played very well. I challenged him with the things he needed to get better with and use all the tools he has available to him. As a young player, he didn't quite get it. Now he's getting it. You're seeing a lot more completions now. He's worked hard. He's doing a lot of good things with his eyes and playing well."

5. Athletes (almost) everywhere. One trend to watch is the conversion of quarterbacks to running backs/receivers. Cincinnati moved Jordan Luallen to receiver, and he is expected to see time as a Wildcat quarterback as well. Ashton Broyld has been moved to running back, though he also played receiver in the spring game. Louisville converted quarterback Dominique Brown to running back last fall, and he is in contention to win the starting job. Temple running back Jalen Fitzpatrick was recruited as a quarterback out of high school. Those four players have the potential to be huge assets to their team. There were a few other notable position switches as well -- Lindsey Lamar is now at running back at USF; and Jeremy Deering is now a receiver at Rutgers.
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."

[+] EnlargeJordan Luallen
Richard Mackson/US PresswireCincinnati's Jordan Luallen said his running ability should help him as he transitions to a WR in 2012.
"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

Height: 6-4

Weight: 229

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

Height: 6-3

Weight: 215

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.

Big East Newcomers for 2012

April, 3, 2012
4/03/12
10:30
AM ET
It's a rite of spring every year -- newcomers begin to emerge to make a name for themselves for the upcoming season. They could be freshmen. They could be transfers. They could be former junior college standouts. They could be a backup finally getting his chance to shine. So who are some of the top newcomers to watch in the Big East for 2012? Here are just a few.

Ashton Broyld, QB, Syracuse. The Orange have been hush-hush about their practices this spring. Coach Doug Marrone has alluded to changing up some of what the team is doing on offense, defense and special teams. That might mean getting a potential playmaker like Broyld more involved at quarterback. Nobody is suggesting that Ryan Nassib is losing his job. But if Broyld is as athletic as we have been led to believe, Syracuse is going to have to find a way to get him the football.

Chris Coyer, QB, Temple. Big East fans are going to want to familiarize themselves with Temple in a hurry, and the first person they are going to need to pay attention to is Coyer. When he was a high school recruit, he was described as having Tim Tebow-like qualities. Indeed, Coyer is a dual-threat quarterback -- he was third on the team last season with 562 yards rushing and threw for 463 yards in eight appearances. He also happens to be left-handed with a bit of size to him (6-foot-3, 230 pounds). Coyer made big-time strides in the bowl game last season; how does he carry that into 2012?

Rushel Shell, RB, Pitt. Shell is not even on campus yet, but he is the most highly-touted recruit in the class of 2012 heading to the Big East. Expectations are for him to compete immediately, even with Ray Graham returning from a torn ACL and Isaac Bennett having an outstanding spring camp. Coach Paul Chryst is not shy about giving a variety of his running backs the ball, and the Panthers are going to be a much more run-heavy team moving forward. Should Shell prove his worth, there will be opportunities for him in this offense.

Want more? Here are a few transfers to watch as well.

Syracuse recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
10:00
AM ET
SYRACUSE ORANGE

The class

2011 signees: 27

Top prospects: Tight end Louie Addazio has good bloodlines; he's the son of former Florida and Syracuse assistant and current Temple coach Steve Addazio. Linebacker Cameron Lynch is a tackling machine who had a whopping 188 stops as a senior in Georgia. Ashton Broyld was a star quarterback in Rochester, N.Y., who has the athletic ability to switch to a different position if needed.

Needs met: Syracuse badly needed offensive playmakers and added some guys with speed at wideout and running back. The program also needed more depth, especially after losing a large senior class; the 27-man class should help in that area.

Analysis: This looks like Doug Marrone's best class in his three years at Syracuse. The Orange disappointingly missed on a couple of superstars they had a chance of landing in Ishaq Williams (Notre Dame) and Kevin McReynolds (UCLA). Getting a player of that caliber must be the goal going forward. But Marrone has made inroads in keeping more talented New York players home and should be able to build on 2010's breakthrough season with this class.

What Marrone said: "Our goal going into this season with this recruiting class, which I think is important, is speed first. That’s the number one thing I wanted to bring into our program. The second thing that we were looking for was we wanted a bigger team. We wanted to get more range in the athletes that we were bringing in. We think we accomplished that with the height and weight of a lot of the players we’ve brought in."

Scouts Inc. grade: C

SPONSORED HEADLINES