My 2023 SU football preview - Part 9 |

My 2023 SU football preview - Part 9


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
Seniors: #31 Yasuke Sugano 5-10 216
Juniors: #25 Khalib Gilmore 6-4 225 #2 Marlowe Wax 6-1 230
Sophomores: #45 Kadin Bailey 6-2 223, #33 Ryan Dolan 6-0 219, #16 Leon Lowery 6-4 239 (was 225), #13 Mekhi Mason 6-2 228, #15 Derek McDonald 6-4 224, #42 Austin Roon 6-3 231, #12 Anwar Sparrow 6-1 225, #7 Stefon Thompson 6-1 248
Freshmen: #59 Marcale Billue 6-0 230, #10 Zyian Moultrie-Goddard 6-0 240, #38 Josiah Jeffery 6-1 220, #49 Josh Kubala 6-2 229, #18 David Omopariola 6-3 232

Marlowe Wax was a 3 star, (of course), but as the 95th best running back in the nation. SU liked him as a linebacker and they’ve liked him there even more with every passing year. Now, with Mikel Jones gone, he’s the leader of the linebacking crew and the defense overall. He’s on the watch list for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Butkus awards, (those are some names!). He’s played in all 36 games since he came to SU and started in 25 in a row. He enters the 2023 season with 184 career tackles (113 solo), 25.0 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a blocked kick. ( Which one is Marlowe Wax? You’ll know.

Kadin Bailey is a 3 star from Georgia, rated as the #142 LB. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman, making 11 tackles, 4 of them on special teams, the third most on that unit. He had 6 tackles and a sack in the Pinstripe Bowl. That suggests that we’ll see a lot more of him as his career evolves. So do his genes: his uncle is former Georgia All-America and Pro Football Hall of Famer Champ Bailey.

Leon Lowery was a 3 star from New Jersey, rated the #94 WDE, (the defensive end who lines up away from the tight end’s side). At that time he was listed as 215 pounds. Last year he’s 225. This year he’s 239. Assuming that steak and not twinkies, this guy’s becoming a monster. He “has appeared in 17 games and has 31 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup at Syracuse.”13 of those games came last year and he helped hold things together amid all the injuries. It resulted in “24 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks”. ( Nunes: “Lowery showed flashes last season of the linebacker that excels in the 3-3-5 system. He’s a great pass rusher and caused a disturbance in the backfield as his playing time increased due to the linebacker injuries. He’ll be one of the favorites to start at one of the outer linebacker positions.” In the depth chart for the Colgate game, he’s ahead of Stefan Thompson. People are wondering what’s wrong with Thompson, but maybe it about what’s right with Lowery.

Mekhi Mason was a 3 star out of Florida, the #91 linebacker in the nation. He played 7 games last year, mostly on special teams, with no stats. The stats will come. Nunes: “While he’s probably still outside the two-deep at the moment, a big fall camp or early injury elsewhere could push him into service.”

Derek McDonald, a 3 star from Georgia, was rated the #92 tight end prospect. (They found out he can catch and switched him to linebacker). He was another guy pressed into service due to injuries, (specifically, Stefon Thompson), who impressed. He replaced Thompson in the opener and then started the next 8 games until he himself got injured. He “had 43 tackles (22 solo), one interception, a sack, 2.0 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.” (

Austin Roon is a 3 star from Michigan, the #106 LB prospect. He saw action in the first 6 games of the season as the primary backup middle linebacker to Mikel Jones before he went down with a season-ending injury. (Do you see a trend here?) He had 7 tackles. Nunes: “The 3-3-5 needs a particular type of player to play middle linebacker so not just any linebacker can slot in and play there. That should mean that Roon should retain the position of primary backup at middle linebacker behind Marlowe Wax and see plenty of playing time to keep Wax fresh.”

Anwar Sparrow was still another young linebacker who got his chance last year – and took advent age of it. He got to play in 11 games, with 3 starts. He “had the best season of his career to date, setting new highs in tackles (40), tackles for loss (5.5), sacks (1.5), forced fumbles (2), fumble recoveries (1) and pass breakups (2)”. He’d been a 3 star linebacker out of Virginia, the #76 ILB, (which must mean inside linebacker). Take away the “Sp” and he’s an arrow aimed at the guy with the ball. Nunes: “Much like Leon Lowery, Sparrow took advantage of the injured linebacker room to make an impact in fill-in situations. He’ll most likely battle with Lowery for the last starting spot on the linebacker corps, but both look to see significant playing time this year. Sparrow should take advantage of most lines tunneling and focusing on Marlowe Wax and Stefon Thompson to make an impact.”

Stefon Thompson was a 3 star out of Charlotte, ranked the 47th ILB. He’s quite a physical specimen, a 6-1 248 pound linebacker. Unfortunately, even physical specimens are not invulnerable to injury and Stefon went down early in the first game, weakening our rushing defense. It was the 23rd game he had competed in for Syracuse and his 20th start, in which he had 117 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 16.0 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. Nunes: “Thompson is a crucial part of the 3-3-5 scheme. He was the second-leading tackler on the team in 2021, and if he is able to return to that form, the entire unit will get a massive boost in production. Until we see him in game action, however, that’s far from a guarantee.”

Zyian Moultrie-Goddard is a 3 star from New Rochelle, the #160 LB in the country. “Was named the New York City High School Football League Vincent O’Connor Memorial AAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 … Three-time all-league selection … Played at Iona Prep under head coach Joseph Spagnolo, where he had 109 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 4 sacks and 1 pass breakup as a senior in 2022 … Three-time team captain … Led his team to a state championship in 2021” Nunes: “his vision and reaction times are arguably the best of the '23s. What caught my eye the most in the highlights is his ability to quickly decipher option plays - that's a must for any interior LB.” Sounds like a potential star.

Josiah Jeffery a 3 star from South Carolina and the #165 ‘athlete’ in the country. As a senior in 2022, made 71 tackles, had nine tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a defensive touchdown … Also played three games on offense and scored seven rushing touchdowns in those games, totaling 347 yards, adding one receiving touchdown as well.” Nunes: “His first looks should be on special teams, and anything beyond that probably won’t come until 2024.”

David Omopariola is a 3 star from Maryland, the #141 edge rusher. (His real first name in Oluwademilade – but don’t tell anybody.) reports he ran track and was “one of the best wrestlers in the state of Maryland”. Nunes: “could emerge as a pass-rush specialist off the edge. Don’t be surprised if he sees action the first two weeks of the season”.

Yasuke Sugano Is a preferred walk-on from St. Francis of Pennsylvania who got into the Wagner game and made one tackle. At St. Francis, an FCS school he had impressive numbers: 34 tackles, four sacks, six tackles for loss and one forced fumble in 24 games. He was born in Japan, where he “played for the Kwansei Gakuin High School Fighters, who won the Japan National Championship in American Football. He then went to high school at Greenville Senior High School in Pennsylvania. He played defensive end for the Trojans, totaling 62 tackles, including 12 for loss, as well as 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a pass break-up.” (247) He knows how to play the game, although he wasn’t rated as a recruit.

Khalib Gilmore was another unrated recruit who went to West Florida, a school that started its football program in 2015 and won the D2 national championship just four years later. Khalib redshirted that year and their 2020 season was cancelled by COVID. They went 21-4 the next two years and he played in appeared in 10 games with 22 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. ( Nunes: “With two years of eligibility remaining, Gilmore fits the mold of mainly learning the system and helping out special teams in year one, then having a bigger role next season.”

Ryan Dolan was a PWO glued to the bench his first two years, who played mostly on special teams in 11 games last year. No stats. Marcale Billue is an unrated freshman walk-on from Corcoran High School in Syracuse. At least he has good size, (6-0 230), which is often a problem with walk-ons. Josh Kubala is another local walk-on, this one from my alma mater CNS. He red-shirted last year and saw no action. Nunes: “2023 projection: Similar to last season.” At least he can be reunited with Rashard Perry, but in a less painful circumstance.

I count 11 three stars for three positions so, again, we can go three deep with potential ACC talents. We’ve also got a star player and leader in Marlowe Wax and several other players who have played plenty of football for us so we’re in excellent shape in this unit, as well.

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