Syracuse football spring practice preview (secondary) –

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse football opens spring practice Tuesday, and to help set the table for Year 2 of the Dino Babers era, Post-Standard will run through each position group.

Miss a position?


Running backs

Receivers/tight ends

Offensive line

Defensive line


Today we close out the defense with a look at the secondary, a unit in line for a major facelift in 2017.

Who’s practicing:


Sr. Devin Butler

One thing to know: Notre Dame-graduate transfer will be viewed as impact player in revamped secondary.

rJr. Juwan Dowels

One thing to know: Dowels is coming off an ACL injury suffered in early September against Louisville, so it’d be surprising to see him doing much. 

rJr. Cordell Hudson

One thing to know: Hudson is going to be in the mix for that second cornerback spot with just about everyone else.

Soph. Carl Jones

One thing to know: Freshman with good football IQ and length makes him good fit in defensive scheme.

Soph. Scoop Bradshaw

One thing to know: Mostly played in the nickel and dime package when Syracuse brought in extra defensive backs for obvious passing downs.

rSoph. Chris Fredrick

One thing to know: Seized his opportunity a year ago and earned consistent playing time by end of the season.


rJr. Antwan Cordy

One thing to know: The co-heart of the back seven along with linebackers Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett, Cordy is back after missing most of last season because of a broken forearm.

rJr. Rodney Williams

One thing to know: Made his share of plays in the secondary, particularly later in the season in upset vs. Virginia Tech and against North Carolina State.

Jr. Daivon Ellison

One thing to know: Tough to keep off the field because he brings the hammer and consistent effort daily. He’s coming off offseason surgery, so I expect him to be limited.

Soph. Evan Foster

One thing to know: Brings much-needed size to the safety spot and figures to be a future contributor sooner rather than later.

Jr. Kielan Whitner

One thing to know: Gifted student who has accrued lot of game experience over his first two seasons. Will see even more reps with Devon Clarke suspension and Ellison on the mend. 

Other defensive backs

Jr. Winston Lee

One thing to know: Walk-on who started his SU career on the track team broke through onto the special teams unit last year.

rFr. Anthony Lombardi

One thing to know: A former quarterback at Trinity Catholic in Connecticut, he threw for 1,546 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 515 yards and five more scores as a senior.

rFr. Kyle Strickland

One thing to know: He’s the cousin of Rod Strickland, who played in the NBA in three different decades, most notably in Portland and Washington.

Jr. Sean Onwualu

One thing to know: The California native joined the team as a walk-on this offseason.

The big question: Who starts to emerge in competition-heavy unit?

No group was scrutinized more than the secondary last year. In many ways, fair or not, it morphed into the posterchild for one of the worst defenses in school history.

Need a reason to believe that won’t happen again this year?

Start with the return of Cordy, who is the best playmaker on the backend.

Add more speed and length in Butler, the Notre Dame transfer, and those are two key pieces that should lead to improvement in the ACC.

But who elevates their game around those two?

Safeties Williams, Foster, Ellison and Whitner all have experience running the defense.

And the cornerback position is wide open.

Contact Nate Mink anytime: 315-430-8253 | Email | Twitter | Facebook | Google+