My 2023 SU Football Preview - Part 7 |

My 2023 SU Football Preview - Part 7


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
Seniors: #77 Joe More 6-5 306
Juniors: #63 Chris Bleich 6-6 323, #74 Jakob Bradford 6-5 309, #76 Kalan Ellis 6-6 375, #55 Josh Ilaoa 6-3 334 (was 315), #71 Lysander Moeolo 6-6 360, #72 Mark Petry 6-4 292 (was 281), #50 J'Onre Reed 6-3 315
Sophomores: #56 Patrick Alberga 6-3 287 (was 261), #70 Enrique Cruz Jr. 6-6 311, #73 Wes Hoeh 6-4 283, #75 Aystyn Kauhi 6-5 260 (was 270), #79 Dave Wohlabaugh Jr. 6-6 315
Freshmen: #69 Jayden Bass 6-6 309, #78 Joe Cruz 6-5 302 (was 277), #57 Trevion Mack 6-6 305, #53 Ted Olsen 6-2 285

Like the running backs, this unit has to replace a star player and will likely have to do it by the combined efforts of the guys who are still here. The star player is Matthew Bergeron, who is now the starting left guard for the Atlanta Falcons.

Joe More is a senior but he’s a recent arrival from Richmond University. Coming out of Nashville Tennessee, he was a 2-star, ranked the #200 offensive tackle prospect in the country. (Keep in mind that the average star rating of a Super Bowl participant from when they came out of high school is 2 stars.) He played in 41 games for the Spiders, starting 37. Joe gave up 4 sacks in 542 pass plays last year and had a run blocking grade of 61.6, higher than anyone on the Syracuse team. Maybe we’ll see him in the Super Bowl someday.

Chris Bleich transferred here from Florida, which created a lot of excitement because Florida is what Coach Mac used to call a “selector school” that had their choice of recruit and they chose Chris, a 4 star out of Pennsylvania rated the 19th best OT prospect, (per ESPN), but also because of Chris’s great size (6-6 325), and the fact that Chris played 13 games for the Gators and started 8. His freshman year featured the 8 starts and Florida went 11-2, gained 430 yards per game – 300 passing - and averaged 33 points. We’d take that this year. His big problem has been injuries. He left Florida because he “was pressured to play through torn cartilage in both of his hips and a double sports hernia as a freshman at Florida in 2019 before transferring to Syracuse.” ( he sat out the 2020 season rehabbing from surgery. “The time away from football allowed Bleich’s hips to fully recover, he said.” But he missed 4 games his first year here. Last year was the first year he was able to play in all 12 games. Babers: “We need to get him back out there. There’s some guys on the side who need to be on the football field, he’s one of them. He’s gonna be one of our better players.”

Jakob Bradford came from Minneapolis. He was a 3 star, the #63 player in the country and the #10 OT per 247, (then why was he just a 3 star?). He went to Iowa Central CC for one year before coming to Syracuse. He played in 2 games in 2021 and eight in 2022, with one start – when Chris Bleich was hurt. Bergeron’s absence gives him a big opportunity to become a starter.

Our biggest guy is Kalan Ellis, (6-6 and 375 and holding), from Coach Babers’ native state of Hawaii. He was a 3 star, the #89 ‘IOL’, (Interior Offensive Lineman’). The question is: how much should he weigh, (it was 388 last year)? Babers said that Ellis is the type of big man who retains his mobility even at an unusually large size. But I suspect even Babers felt 388 was a bit much. Nonetheless, Ellis saw extensive playing time as a freshman and started last year. He’s now played in 20 games and started 14. He gave up just one sack from his position last year. He lined up next to Bergeron and it will be interesting to see how much that impacted his performance.

Josh Ilaoa sounds like he’s from Hawaii but he was born in Seattle and grew up in North Carolina. His parents have a Hawaiian/Samoan background. He was a 3 star, the #122 defensive tackle in the country. He’s switched to offense here, (and built himself from 280 to 334 pounds). He’s played in 33 games, starting in 2 of them, playing both center and guard. This is his big chance to take a starting job. “He is faster than he looks. You wouldn’t think he could move like that.”

Lysander Moeolo is our second largest player at 6-6 360. He was a 3 star, the #92 OT. He’s also switched back and forth between offense and defense but that body is more of an elephant than an hippo, (Dino’s terms for offensive and defensive linemen). He’s a Samoan who went to high school in Lacey, Washington and then to Navarro Community College for two years, where he played 16 games. If he and Ellis are out there, the average size of our O-line is going to be amazing. (I hope they play that big.)

Mark Petry is the other player from our German connection, (Tight end Max Mang is the other – will there be more?). Mark was a 2-star but somehow rated the 34th best OT – perhaps coming out of Germany. He spent a season at Ellsworth CC. We flipped him from Eastern Michigan. He’s gone for 269 pounds to 292, (still a bit tiny on this team). He’s missed one year due to injury but has seen action in 13 games.

J'Onre Reed calls himself “The Big General”. He was the anchor of a Hutchinson JC line that led that team to an 11-1 record and the junior college national championship game. The year before that he was at…wait for it…Blinn College in Texas. He’s been a 3 star in Kansas, the #67 player and #6 IOL. That’s his JUCO rating. “The nickname came spontaneously thanks to one of Reed’s teammates at Hutchinson following a strong win over a rival team in which Reed had commanded the offense.” Nunes: “Reed enters camp as the backup center behind Josh Ilaoa. The newcomer’s extreme physicality could earn him opportunity for playing time this fall.” That’s what we need: extreme physicality.

Members of created their own NIL fund to support an athlete on the Syracuse football team and they chose Enrique Cruz Jr. It was a good choice as Enrique has made his way up the depth chart and has a good shot at a starting position on this year’s line. He was a 4 star recruit and the #23 offensive tackle. He filled in for Bergeron when he was injured last season and played in his stead when Matthew opted out of the bowl game. Enrigue appeared in eight games with five starts, three at right tackle, two at left tackle “He’s got all the tools to be one of the best linemen in this conference,” Bergeron said. “He gotta figure out a few things, but he got all the tools.” He could be the new Bergeron.

Wes Hoeh tried to fill in for Chris Elmore after he was hurt last year but there’s only one Chris Elmore. Wes, from Illinois, was the #146 interior offensive lineman with 3 stars. Babers: “He’s someone that’s been growing very quickly on the practice field,” Babers said. “He’s really did some development things and we think he’s one of our young and up-coming players and we wanna get him some snaps.” Nunes: “He’s likely a backup guard and special teams player this fall.”

Aystyn Kauhi is another Hawaiian. He was a 3 star, the #123 OT. He was actually the first Hawaiian recruit Babers had but he’s only played in two games thusfar. He seems to be getting smaller. He was 280 as a freshman and is now 260. How many 260 pound offensive linemen do you see these days?

Dave Wohlabaugh Jr. is, naturally, the son of Dave Wohlabaugh sr. Dave senior played for SU, the for the patriots, Browns and Rams from 1995-2003. Dave junior was a 3 star, the #69OT. He played for Kentucky in ten games, with one start and hit the transfer portal to go to Dad’s alma mater. Nunes: ”We expect Wohlabaugh to get a long look along the offensive line in camp. It will be interesting if he’s taking reps at multiple positions along the line as the Orange look to solidify that group.”

Jayden Bass is a three star freshman from Massachusetts, the #128 OT. He’ll probably redshirt this year as he prepares to climb the depth charts over the next few years.

Joe Cruz gives us a strong ‘Cruz factor’. Maybe he could back up Enrique. He’s a 3 star out of Ronkonkoma, NY, (that’s on Long Island), the #173 OT in the country. He played in three games last year while redshirting and will be part of the depth this year.

Trevion Mack is a 3 star from Minnesota, the #134 IOL in the country. We flipped him from Northern Illinois. Nunes: “Ideally, he’ll redshirt, but considering offensive line was one of the thinnest position groups in the spring, don’t completely rule out him seeing the field this fall.”

Patrick Alberga is a Preferred Walk-on from Saranac Lake who’s been switched from defense to offense. He’s only 263 because he maintains a vegan diet. He has yet to appear in a game. Ted Olson is another PWO from California by way of IMG Academy in Florida. Nunes: “Olsen brings added value as a long-snapper, but he’s likely to spend his first season on the scout team.”

Where’s the beef? In Syracuse. It looks like we can put together a pretty good starting unit and may have the depth we’ve been searching for yours. We’ve got two 4 stars, eleven 3 stars and Joe More. That’s 14 good or potentially good players for 5 positions. That could allow us to rotate players, keeping them fresh and healthy. And a couple of these guys could emerge as stars, pillars we could build the line around. But a lot of these players are going to get more playing time than they’ve ever seen at this level, so we don’t know for sure.

Fun fact: If we started Bleich, Ellis, Ilaoa, Moeolo and Wolabaugh, we’d have a line that averages 341 pounds per man. The “Sizable Seven” line of our 1959 national championship averaged 215 and the “Cherry Bowl Group” of the undefeated 1987 team averaged 275.

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