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College football: Syracuse scrimmage sheds light on receivers

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FORT DRUM — As its preseason training camp nears the end, the Syracuse University football team’s receiving corps is starting to take shape.

Seniors Jarrod West and Adrian Flemming, along with junior Ashton Broyld, lined up with the Orange’s first team during its split-squad scrimmage Thursday at Fort Drum, one of the last events of SU’s annual four-day camp on post.

West, Broyld and Flemming were the first names mentioned by SU head coach Scott Shafer when asked which receivers have stood out through the first two weeks of practice.

Last season, Broyld led SU with 52 receptions and West averaged a team-high 36 receiving yards per game. Flemming missed most of the year with an injury.

“I feel good about that whole group,” said Shafer, who opened camp with 16 wide receivers on his roster. “I think they’re blocking better and I think they’re competing well.”

West and Broyld provided two of the only offensive highlights at Thursday’s 55-play scrimmage, which was played on a cold, rain-soaked field in front of about 200 fans on post.

West caught a deep ball from starting quarterback Terrel Hunt for a 50-yard gain to set up the offense at the 10-yard line. A few plays later, Hunt found Broyld in the corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the scrimmage.

Jamal Custis, a 6-foot-5 freshman, made several catches during the scrimmage. At one point, Custis hauled in two straight passes to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by George Morris II.

Shafer said that Custis and fellow freshman Steve Ishmael have made big strides in the past week.

“I’m really excited about the progress Steve Ishmael has made as a true freshman, and the last two days, Jamal Custis has shown up,” Shafer said. “And that’s not to say anything more or less with some of the other kids that have been around, but those couple guys have jumped out the last couple days.”

Brisly Estime, a speedy sophomore who plans to figure significantly in this year’s offense, missed the scrimmage and has been absent for most of training camp with a sprained ankle. Redshirt freshman Sean Avant missed all of the Fort Drum practices with an upper-body injury.

On Thursday morning, SU announced that receiver Corey Cooper, a freshman from Raleigh, N.C., has decided to transfer to be closer to home.

“He’s a homebody and he misses being close to his family,” Shafer said. “We talked about it, but at the end of the day, you don’t want to have to twist their arm to stay if their mind is set. He felt like his mind was set so we just wish him all the best in the world.”

Earlier this week, SU announced receivers Keenan Hale and Adly Enoicy would require surgery for upper-body injuries and their status will be updated before the Aug. 29 season opener.

Quinta Funderburk and Jeremiah Kobena – a pair of senior receivers who have yet to meet their potential – are players to watch in the battle for playing time at the crowded position.

Austin Wilson and Mitch Kimble – both sophomore quarterbacks competing for the backup spot – split reps behind Hunt at Thursday’s scrimmage and neither was able to put the ball in the end zone.

Freshman A.J. Long, also competing for the backup QB position, missed the scrimmage because of shoulder irritation. Shafer said that Long will “be fine,” and has “kind of been ahead of the other two as of late.”

“The good thing about the backup position at the quarterback is throughout the course of the season, the competition continues to move forward. Obviously, going into the Villanova game (on Aug. 29) we want to know who that next guy in is.”

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