It’s kind of astonishing to think that less than a year ago, no one at Syracuse University had ever heard the name “Zack Mahoney.” The preferred walk-on was added to the Orange roster in January, and being a walk-on and all, no one ever really expected him to see the field. I mean, that would be crazy, right?

Instead, the 6-foot-2, junior college transfer has not only seen the field, but he’s been pretty effective in relief of Eric Dungey against LSU and Clemson. While his numbers haven’t really jumped off the page – completing just 46.5% of his passes for 297 yards through the air – he’s also tossed four touchdowns against just one interception in his two starts, plus the second half and overtime against Central Michigan (he also appeared briefly against both Pitt, Florida State, and Louisville). Add in his 127 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and 6.4 yards-per-carry, and Mahoney’s performance has far surpassed anything anyone could have expected.

And you know what? It’s getting close to being the time to hand the young man a scholarship. I don’t think anyone believes he won’t get a scholarship, and obviously with recruiting ongoing, the staff will want to hang onto as many scholarships as possible to finish up the class of 2016. But once that’s finalized, the Orange absolutely need to make it a priority to get Mahoney out of his “walk-on” status. It remains to be seen where he’ll fall in the pecking order in 2016, considering Rex Culpepper and Lindsey Scott are both being added to the mix and there’s a chance Terrel Hunt could get a sixth season – not to mention Eric Dungey obviously still being around. But that really doesn’t matter.

Zack Mahoney has been thrown into about as hot a fire as possible this season on more than one occasion, and while he’s lost two the big guns he’s faced, he’s still emerged from the flames basically unscathed.

Now, if only we could find a 4-star player named Tackleberry, we’d be all set.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including,,,, and, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish