Syracuse's Scott Shafer ready for that first camp
Syracuse's Scott Shafer kept his comments brief as he contemplated the start of his first preseason camp as a head coach. Maybe because he has a lot on his plate.
''Nothing's changed, other than we've got a bunch of new faces out there,'' Shafer said Sunday. ''Nothing's changed as far as who are going to be our players. We just haven't had the opportunity to work with them. Looking forward to those kids competing, showing us what they're all about.''
Sometime in the next three weeks Shafer and quarterbacks coach Tim Lester will huddle and make a very big decision - selecting a starter from among six candidates for the season opener Aug. 31 against Penn State in East Rutherford, N.J.
''All those quarterbacks that we have in the program are kids that compete and love the game,'' Shafer said. ''Now, we've just got to let them go and do that. What happens then is it sorts itself out. The strong end up at the top and the guys that aren't quite ready end up going down. I just want them to battle.
''The way you motivate somebody to be a good player is to have someone behind them that can take their job from them. The good news is we've got those guys.''
The most experienced is senior lefthander Charley Loeb, whose career totals are 4 of 6 for 49 yards, mainly because he backed up Ryan Nassib, who's now on the roster of the New York Giants. Syracuse finished 8-5 in 2012 behind Nassib, who ranks first in school annals in career passing yards (9,190), attempts (1,312) and completions (791), and second in touchdown passes (70). He also led Syracuse to two bowl triumphs in his final three seasons.
Big shoes to fill, and Loeb didn't have the best of spring camps, which is why sophomore Terrel Hunt was atop the pre-camp depth chart. Junior John Kinder and freshmen Mitch Kimble, an all-state selection at Jersey Community High School in Illinois, and Austin Wilson, a star at East Pennsboro High School in Pennsylvania, also will be vying for the job when camp opens Monday.
One of those new faces is in the mix, too, and 6-foot-5 Drew Allen already has attracted perhaps the biggest share of attention. A backup quarterback at Oklahoma for three seasons, Allen transferred to Syracuse for his final year of eligibility and has already built a good relationship with his new teammates.
''For four years I've been itching,'' Allen said. ''No matter where I was on the depth chart at Oklahoma, I always pride myself on being a leader. I always led in workouts, during games, it didn't matter. To be able to compete for the job, solidify myself as the guy, as the leader, would just be a dream come true, and something I've been waiting for all my life.
''I have one year, so I've got to do everything in my power to ... come prepared for every single day, compete at a high level.''
The arrival of Allen, who committed to the Orange in April, wasn't exactly what Hunt was anticipating. He's ready for the challenge and said Shafer had stressed to him privately that nothing had been promised to Allen.
''Coach Shafer said, `He's coming in competing just like the rest of you guys. You've got to go, and may the best man win,' " Hunt said. ''It's not anybody getting the upper hand cause of where they're from. I don't care.
''Bring it on because wherever you go there's going to be competition. I was the underdog, and if I'm the underdog again, I'm ready to shock the world.''