The Syracuse Orange were dealt a blow yesterday with the news that junior college defensive tackle Wayne Williams would not be enrolling this fall because of academic reasons. Williams not being able to enroll and play this season is a big loss for the Orange, quite literally.
Williams is a massive defensive tackle (6-foot-6, 335 pounds), who was expected to be a contributor right away for the Orange along the defensive line, and possibly compete for a starting spot as soon as he stepped on campus. After losing seniors Brandon Sharpe and Deon Goggins to graduation, and having Markus Pierce-Brewster and Davon Walls kicked off the team because of an off-field discretion, Syracuse is in need of some help along the defensive line, and they were expecting to get that from Williams, who would have provided a lot of size and physicality along the defensive front.
Before they knew the Orange would be without Pierce-Brewster and Williams, many were expecting Syracuse to have its best defensive line in more than a decade in 2013, but the loss of those two players, especially the recent news of Williams not joining the team, raises some questions.
Syracuse knows it will have one reliable player on the interior of the line in Jay Bromley. They will also have a lot of size inside from Eric Crume, John Raymon, Zian Jones and Ryan Sloan, but Williams would have taken the size of the group to another level and provided important depth, as no one in the group is an established player outside of Bromley.
Even more troublesome than the interior of the line is the lack of depth and established players at the defensive end. Micah Robinson and Robert Welsh are penciled in as the starters, but neither has been a dependable pass rusher during the past two seasons. They are hoping that converted tight end Ron Thompson and a couple junior college transfers can make contributions and provide depth at defensive end.
Williams’ size inside and his ability to take on double teams would have made things easier for Syracuse’s ends to rush the passer, and his presence would allow Raymon and other tackles to see time on the outside, but without Williams, the Orange will need Raymon to take up space on the interior.
Barring something unexpected, the Orange will have to wait a year before getting Williams on the field. With Syracuse losing key players on the defensive line from last year’s team and entering the ACC this season, they could use all the help they can get, especially a big body like Williams, whose absence will be felt by the Orange in 2013.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.