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Syracuse Football Preview: Running Backs

LeQuint Allen (white) reaches the ball out in Syracuse's final game of the 2022 regular season against Boston College.
LeQuint Allen (white) reaches the ball out in Syracuse's final game of the 2022 regular season against Boston College.

As Syracuse football's season opener draws near, WAER Sports will release articles previewing position groups. A list of published articles can be found at the conclusion of this piece.

LeQuint Allen

With Sean Tucker off to the NFL, LeQuint Allen is expected to take over as the primary option in the run game for Syracuse this season. The New Jersey native provided plenty of optimism against Minnesota in the Pinstripe Bowl to conclude his freshman campaign.

However, Allen’s preparations for his second year with the Orange took a drastic turn when news broke in late June that the rising sophomore was suspended for the entirety of the 2023 football season for his role in a fight that took place in December on campus.

After Allen filed a lawsuit on June 26 against the university to have the suspension overturned, an agreement was reached that will allow the tailback to rejoin the team on August 15 and play this fall. With Allen back in the picture, the Orange can expect a versatile running back.

After Tucker opted not to play in the Pinstripe Bowl last year, Allen made his lone start of 2022 and accumulated 94 yards on 15 carries while racking up 60 yards in the passing game on 11 receptions. In total, Allen appeared in nine contests last season and tallied 41 carries for 274 yards and caught 17 passes for 117 yards.

As a legitimate pass-catching threat and an explosive runner that likes to evade the defense by working to the outside, the potential is there for Allen to have a breakout campaign in his new starting role.

Juwuan Price

The redshirt junior appeared in nine games during his first season with the Orange in 2022 and was primarily utilized on special teams. Price recorded eight carries for 39 yards when he was called upon as a running back. Five of those came against Wagner while his other three carries came in the Pinstripe Bowl against Minnesota.

It is safe to assume that Price will be the backup to Allen. The Arizona native has plenty of experience after tallying 168 carries for 11 touchdowns during his time at New Mexico State. His explosiveness makes him a real weapon in the run game. Considering Allen joined the team late and might need some time to find his form, Price could be the primary option or 1a in the first few weeks of the campaign.

Ike Daniels

Another true freshman running back, Daniels was listed as the 10th-best player in Virginia by ESPN. The three star recruit ran for more than 1,700 yards and racked up over 2,000 total yards at Mountain View High School.

Daniels also received offers from ACC rivals Boston College, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest in addition to the likes of Tennessee, Penn State and Hawaii before choosing to play for the Orange. The highly touted prospect will be in the mix for third on the depth chart and could get some carries from time to time in a backup role behind Allen and Price.

Muwaffaq Parkman

The freshman was named a top-20 athlete in New Jersey by 247 Sports. As a senior in 2022, the three star recruit scored eight touchdowns for Hillside High School. The Newark native averaged 14 yards per carry in his high school career and attained north of 30 touchdowns. Likely low on the depth chart this season, Parkman’s athleticism could be put to use on special teams.

Joshua Escobar

The redshirt freshman joined the ‘Cuse as a walk-on at the start of fall camp in 2022 but did not appear in any contests. The Long Island native played for St. Anthony’s High School where he was a team captain and also played lacrosse alongside current SU midfielder Michael Leo. Sitting near the bottom of the depth chart, Escobar’s debut and contributions would likely come on special teams.

Deston Hawkins

The sophomore enters his first season with Syracuse as a transfer from Foothill College, a JUCO program in Los Altos, California. The Menlo Park, California native redshirted in 2021 and was a Pac 7 First-Team All-Conference selection last year. Hawkins made 10 appearances and finished with 137 carries for 1,164 yards and 18 touchdowns. Additionally, he made six catches for 95 yards. As a hopeful addition to a deep running back depth chart, there is a chance that Hawkins gets a few touches early in the season against non-conference opponents and could even compete with Juwuan Price for the backup role.

Tyler Chandler

The last of three true freshman running backs on the roster, Chandler was a dynamic athlete in high school where he played lacrosse, soccer and track in addition to football. The Florida native is an undersized walk-on at 5’8’’and 170 lbs. Chandler likely won’t see the field in his freshman season and will have the opportunity to learn on the practice team.

Mario Escobar

The redshirt sophomore played mainly on special teams last season, appearing in 11 games. His debut came against Purdue and played in every game after that. Escobar showed his effectiveness as a kick returner and that is a role he could feature in again this fall. It is unlikely that Escobar gets many carries, if any, with the likes of Price and Hawkins seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. His past experience on special teams could make him a top candidate as a kick returner in 2023.

JJ Branham

A late addition to the roster, the redshirt junior has had quite the journey enroute to ultimately landing at Syracuse. Branham started out at Eastern Michigan in 2019 but did not see any action. After that, the Ohio native spent two years away from football and was homeless for a period of time. He then made his return to college football at Blinn College in 2022 and appeared in nine games with 107 carries for 648 yards and seven touchdowns. The JUCO transfer will likely be battling for opportunities this fall and could see a few touches from time to time.

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