Syracuse only signed one player in its 2017 recruiting class ranked with four stars — quarterback Tommy DeVito — based on 247Sports.com’s composite rankings. And the highly-touted freshman is already working with the Orange’s second team in practice, according to Syracuse.com’s Stephen Bailey.
DeVito was named an Elite 11 finalist, a competition that ranks the top high school quarterbacks. Trent Dilfer, the head coach of Elite 11, compared DeVito to Aaron Rodgers. The incoming freshman started in the Under Armour All-American game and was named to The Opening’s all-7-on-7 team. He’s one of the Orange’s highest anticipated recruits in recent memory. DeVito received offers from Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Washington State after he chose Syracuse, per Bailey, but remained committed to his original choice.
Less than a full week into practice, the true freshman is already impressing teammates.
“He’s a freshman, but you can’t really tell,” wide receiver Jamal Custis told Syracuse.com. “He makes the right reads. He’s a strong thrower. He plays the game well and takes coaching.”
On the Orange’s preseason depth chart, junior Eric Dungey is listed as the starter. That comes as no surprise as Dungey has been Syracuse’s starter the past two seasons. Senior Zack Mahoney, who began his Orange career as a walk-on junior college transfer and earned a scholarship last summer, is listed as Dungey’s backup.
As DeVito and Mahoney split time with the second team, the battle for Syracuse’s backup quarterback spot is one of the most important storylines of training camp. That’s because of Dungey’s injury history, which features several hits taken over the past two years. He’s missed the last three games in each of those seasons while missing time in other games as well.
Mahoney has stepped in the past two seasons with serviceable performances, highlighted by last year’s finale against Pittsburgh when he completed 43 of 61 passes for 440 yards and was responsible for seven touchdowns, a school record.
Yet DeVito is considered by many to be the quarterback of the future and his teammates say the first few days of his college career are off to a good start.
“He’s always trying to make his mental side better,” wide receiver Devin Butler told Syracuse.com of DeVito. “When we’re watching film, he’s watching. He’s engaged. So there’s no playing around when it comes to his football. He loves football and he’s a football player.”