We’ve been wondering which true freshmen would see the field this year, and which ones might take a redshirt. Well, except on the defensive line, where it looks like everyone will play. But one player some might have expected to redshirt this season, Sean Riley, is most definitely going to be on the field, according to Dino Babers.
Dino on Fr. Sean Riley: He will get an opportunity to play this year but the more he limits his mistakes, the more opportunities he'll get.
— Syracuse Football (@syrfootball) August 31, 2016
The news came out of the first ACC teleconference of the year as Syracuse gets set to take on Colgate on Friday night. Riley is a blazing fast player with elite lateral quickness and agility, so from that standpoint it’s not much of a surprise to see him getting out on the field. The only surprise, really, is that while he’s lightning quick, he’s also very, very small at this point. Right now, he’s listed at 151 pounds on the official roster.
That said, he could be a menace working out of the slot and has a chance to be the third guy at that position behind Ervin Philips and Brisly Estime. Buzz coming out of fall camp was that Riley looked very good, showing terrific hands to go along with his shiftiness and breakaway speed. The only real question will be if his small frame will be able to handle the physicality of Power 5 football. That said, I’ve been hearing that day in and day out, he looks like the fastest guy on the roster. Along with getting some time in the slot, look for him to potentially emerge as a kick returner, as well.
Perhaps a bigger surprise is that Babers mentioned the staff could conceivably redshirt Devin Butler. Butler, the 6-foot-3 wide receiver from Maryland, has been one of the standout players throughout fall camp. However, as Babers noted, depth is definitely not an issue at outside receiver (or at running back, where Butler has also gotten some work).
In the long run, if the likes of Amba Etta-Tawo, Jamal Custis, Alvin Cornelius, and Kenterius Womack can get the job done working opposite Steve Ishmael, the Orange could be better off by letting Butler continue to grow as a receiver and get a full four years as a starter on the outside. After all, with Etta-Tawo and Cornelius gone next year, that second outside receiver spot would conceivably be his for the taking.