The last two weeks, the buzz has been growing about true freshman quarterback Eric Dungey. With his combination of size (he’s 6-3, 202), athleticism (he was a star basketball and track athlete in high school), intelligence (there’s a reason Ivy League schools were sniffing around), and production (18-of-30, 335 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), he’s shown an awful lot of promise. Yet moving forward, Syracuse University head coach Scott Shafer might find himself facing a strange, and utterly unique decision next season.
Obviously, we’re a very long way away from the 2016 campaign, and we’re still not entirely sure how things will shake it. I understand it’s premature to look ahead nearly a full calendar year to talk about a potential quarterback controversy that may not even come to fruition, especially when a couple of very important games are coming up in the 2015 season.
With that said, it’s still worth at least mentioning, because it seems to be a pretty unprecedented situation could be popping up for the Orange heading into next year.
Dungey was thrust into the starting role after a season ending injury to Terrel Hunt, who unfortunately has had horrendous luck with his health over the past two seasons. The fifth year senior will, however, try to gain a sixth year of eligibility through the NCAA, and that’s the crux of this dilemma. What the hell happens next year if Hunt gets that sixth year, and Dungey finishes the 2015 campaign with a solid stat line and, potentially, a trip to a bowl game under his belt?
Let’s imagine for a moment that Dungey lives up to expectations, at least to an extent. Obviously, he’s going to falter at some point. He’s a true freshman, after all. That’s what happens; they falter. But let’s suppose, for a moment, Dungey finishes the season throwing for about 1,800 yards, 12 touchdowns, and eight interceptions while adding about 300 yards and a few extra scores on the ground, and the Orange go 6-6 and earn a bowl berth.
And let’s imagine that Hunt gets his sixth year of eligibility.
What the hell are the coaches going to do when it comes to next season’s starting QB role? How can you possibly displace a true freshman QB who, in this scenario, played as effectively as Dungey? And at the same time, how can you take a gig away from a two year starter who has, unfortunately been unluckily snakebitten?
Dungey holds Hunt in the highest regard, as the Post-Standard reported last week. It’s a situation that could put the two friends in a very difficult situation, and if I can geek out for a moment, is reminiscent of Darth Vader telling Obi-Wan, “When I left you I was but a learner; now, I am the master.”
Yeah, I admit, that was mainly an excuse to reference Star Wars. But the point remains: what the heck is Syracuse going to do if Terrel Hunt wins his appeal for a sixth year of eligibility? I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine him trying to head somewhere else for a graduate degree and an immediate chance to start. I also can’t see him supplanting a young, talented, extremely promising kid like Dungey unless Dungey complete falters down the stretch this season – which, quite frankly, I don’t foresee happening.
It creates a very interesting scenario, and one that will no doubt lead to countless columns throughout the spring and summer should Hunt win his appeal and Dungey continue to play well. That’s not even factoring in guys like Austin Wilson, AJ Long, or incoming freshman Rex Culpepper, the highly touted signal caller who is expected to be on campus for the spring semester.
Terrel Hunt is a tremendous teammate and leader, and chances are when his playing days are over he’ll make a fine coach. You just have to wonder if he’s quite ready to take on that full, immersive mentor role just yet.