The Syracuse University football team is getting a lot of contributions from true freshmen this season, most notably Eric Dungey, Jordan Fredericks, and Steven Clark. But another first year Orangeman, Dontae Strickland, is quietly putting together a fairly historic season for true freshman at Syracuse. The New Jersey native, playing the express back position in Tim Lester’s offense, is putting more points on the board than any true freshman back since Delone Carter.
Carter’s freshman season, he finished as the team’s leading rusher with 713 yards in 2006. He also added four touchdowns – all against Wyoming – the most scores of any true freshman between then and now. Strickland is on pace to blow past that number, despite getting only a limited number of touches so far this season.
Strickland has rushed the ball six times, and caught four passes. That’s only 10 touches for the entire season (for you mathematically challenged out there), yet he’s found pay dirt three times. The success rate for Strickland has been sensational thus far, and bodes well both for the express back position (particularly when you factor in Erv Philips who caught two passes – both for touchdowns – before getting injured) and Strickland’s future in Orange.
So far this year, Strickland has been electric, scoring two long touchdowns (including a 21 yard jaunt against Rhode Island, and weaving his way through Central Michigan’s defense for an 18 yard score on the play that saw Eric Dungey sidelined). Last week against LSU, Strickland caught a five yard touchdown pass from Zack Mahoney to help keep Syracuse alive in what turned out to be a heck of an overall performance for the team.
Obviously, Strickland won’t keep up his current pace. After all, it’s not really conceivable that a hybrid is going to score one out of every three times he gets the ball. But the mere fact that he’s already close to catching Carter’s total of four touchdowns in so many fewer games is a testament both to his talent, which we’ve obviously been raving about around here for awhile, and Tim Lester’s ability to get the ball to his playmakers where they can, well, make plays.
So far, this is looking like one of the most talented freshman classes in years for the Orange, and Strickland will continue being a big part of that success.