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Syracuse Football: 2006 (Part II)

Who will tote the rock for the Orange in 2006?

[Eds. Note: This essay is the second in a series of approximately eighteen previewing the 2006 Syracuse Orange. Previous installments can be found here.]


CAPS: Returning starter from 2005
Bold: 2006 Pre-Spring projected starter
*: Injured
#: Suspended from spring practice
^: Eligibility issues
$: Heisman Trophy Candidate

2006 Syracuse Running Backs
Returning PlayersP. ChiaraSo.
C. "Boonah" BrinkleySo.
K. JonesSo.
J. SellersJr.
Incoming PlayersD. CarterFr.
D. SmithFr.

For the first time in about a decade, the primary ball carrying responsibilities at Syracuse are left unsettled. The departure of Damien Rhodes has created a vacuum at the running back position with three current players – Kareem Jones, Paul Chiara, and Boonah Brinkley – battling for the number one position. A fourth rusher – incoming freshman Delone Carter – is expected to join the fray this summer. Jeremy Sellers, a New Jersey product that has been assigned to virtually every position on the field during his career at Syracuse, appears to have locked up the lowest rung on the totem pole.

The three returning rushers fighting for the principal tailback position present different styles of rushing. Last season Kareem Jones, a bruising rusher with strong between-the-tackle skills, showed flashes of a punishing, power style indicative of that exhibited by former Orange Rob Konrad. He appears to have a nice set of hands but was rarely able to display his pass catching ability last season as Perry Patterson could not complete a swing pass to save his life.

Boonah Brinkley, a smallish back with a body type reminiscent of fellow Pennsylvanian and Orange tailback James Mungro, had a muted 2005 campaign. Playing behind Damien Rhodes and Kareem Jones for a vast majority of the season, Brinkley was unable to show the kind of flash that catapulted him toward the top of Pennsylvania’s high school rushing records.

Despite Brinkley’s limited field time last season, he appears to have all the attributes of a dangerous back in the West Coast Offense – great hands, an ability to run inside and outside the tackles, and a solid, squat frame to pick up the blitz. Thus, with the incredible amount of potential Brinkley maintains, he has all the tools necessary to become Syracuse’s starter against Wake Forest on September 2nd. As a consequence, whether Brinkley can realize some of this potential over the course of this summer will ultimately determine his role on the team for 2006.

Finally, there is pre-spring projected starter Paul Chiara. Chiara, a 5’11”, 210 pound enigma, showed a resilient consistency during spring practice sessions. Chiara has decent foot speed and showed flashes of the same skill attributes maintained by fellow Orange rusher Boonah Brinkley. Like Brinkley, however, Chiara saw only limited action last season and to project how he will react in regular season game situations is difficult.

Following the spring practice season reports indicated that Paul Chiara and Boonah Brinkley separated themselves from the muddled pack of runners. Personally, I would love to see Brinkley emerge from the fray as the season’s primary back. With a body build and style patterned after James Mungro, he would be the perfect fit for Syracuse’s new Brian Pariani-free offense.

With that said, however, one giant question remains: where does Delone Carter fit in this mess? As a high school senior last year, Carter was named “Mr. Ohio.” From published reports on and, Carter appears to have all the tools necessary for acquiring such a label:

Definitely has big-play mentality. Fell in love with Carter after watching his film. Can shake tackles. Very good lamps (vision). Can run between the tackles and has the quicks to take the ball outside. Stock should rise throughout the year. Elusive. Very good running back instincts. Breaks tackles.
Should Carter show flashes of prodigal talent during the summer, there is going to be a lot of pressure on head coach Greg Robinson to throw Carter into the mix, especially if neither Brinkley nor Chiara secures the starting position without question. Ideally, either Chiara or Brinkley will establish themselves as viable first and second options, thus allowing Carter to redshirt this season and apply some weight and resilience to his frame. If Carter truly is the kind of game changing back that those in the business believe he can become, there is no reason to force him onto the field before he is ready.

This is not to say that Carter should not see playing time if he is truly the strongest rusher on the depth chart. Freshman running backs in recent history have had success on the gridiron. However, the Orange program made the mistake of playing a highly rated recruit in Johnnie Morant early in his career when he was not ready to step onto the field. He lost a year of eligibility and only late in his career began achieving his potential. Hopefully, Greg Robinson will not make the same mistake with Carter this year.

Player(s)to Watch: Boonah Brinkley / Delone Carter

4 Responses to “Syracuse Football: 2006 (Part II)”

  1. # Anonymous Ian

    Thanks for the plaudits on the later post, but that just reminds me of when I saw James Mungro play in a high school playoff game against my guys. He was by far the most electrifying player I've ever seen in person. Granted, we won, but I'm pretty sure Mungro scored all of his squad's points with 90+ yard screen-n-runs.  

  2. # Anonymous Dave Pearson

    BYOB - Bring your own Boonah!  

  3. # Anonymous Matt

    Mungro is the perfect example of why being a Syracuse fan is a necessary prerequisite to clinical depression.

    Coming out of high school, Mungro was a Parade and Street and Smith's All-America. He was Pennsylvania's player of the year as a junior and set state records for career rushing yards with 8,432 and all-purpose yards with 9,513.

    So what does Paul Pasqualoni do when he arrives on campus? Makes him ride the pine behind such stout rushers as Dee Brown.

    All of a sudden, after Mungro goes for a 12-162, 2 TDs performance against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, the coaching staff decides to start him as the featured back as a senior. He of course goes on to set the third best seasonal yardage total mark in Syracuse's history.

    Good think he shared carries from his freshman through sophomore years. It would've been disappointing to see Mungro single-handedly carry the Orange to more than six victories a season.

    Davey Train:
    You're an idiot. But that may just become the football anthem for '06.  

  4. # Anonymous Dave Pearson

    Like a fat girl waving her trophy from the smell contest.  

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