As Champ noted last night, Donnie Webb of the Post Standard has reported that wide receiver Mike Williams, arguably the best player on a very bad Syracuse football team, has been suspended due to an academic issue and is currently not enrolled in school.
The timing is curious since academic suspensions usually happen during, or at the end of, the academic year. Due to privacy issues, there is not a lot of information available, and while speculating doesn't help, common sense tells you he either screwed up something in summer classes, or people have been sitting on this since the regular school year closed. The Daily Orange basically corroborates what the PS has, and hasn't been able to shed any new light on the situation. As of right now, Williams future with the team is in doubt, which doesn't bode well for Greg Robinson as he fights to keep his job.
Last year Williams established himself as one of the best receivers in the Big East and tied the Syracuse school record with 60 receptions. As a big target, Williams has been especially effective in the red zone, catching a touchdown pass in 9 consecutive games - the longest streak in the nation. What's truly astonishing about that accomplishment is that he did it playing on one of the worst offenses in college football last year. Syracuse scored 16.4 points per game and the offense racked up a grand total of 23 touchdowns -- 10 of them by Williams.
If he isn't able to return, the receiving corps is a complete mess, as last year's second leading receiver Taj Smith is in camp with the Green Bay Packers and promising wide out Damon Merkerson has been moved to cornerback. The guy returning with the most experience is Lavar Lobdell, who was a highly coveted recruit coming out of high school, but has been a disappointment to date. The other receivers on the roster are mix of an untested and unproven true freshmen, redshirt freshman and sophomores who have collectively spent very little time playing college football.
The loss would also be a huge blow to new offensive coordinator Mitch Browning as he seeks to improve the abysmal running game, as defenses won't have to respect the wide outs. In addition, having Williams as a weapon on the outside was expected to help open up the middle of the field for the tight ends because guess what, they too need all the help they can get. Right now the leading contenders to play the TE position are a converted defensive end, a rather small converted linebacker who came on campus as a safety, and two redshirt freshman who, by all reports, are not yet ready physically.
Personally, I like the toughness and moxie quarterback Andrew Robinson showed last year - but he was hesitant at times and didn't always show a great feel for the game. What he needs to continue his development are some reliable targets and weapons - and Mike Williams was the only one that we know for sure he had - now he may be gone.
Obviously we are jumping the gun right now, but if Mike Williams doesn't see the field this year, here's some advice for both Robinsons - for Andrew, be prepared to check the ball down to the running backs on every drop back and for Greg, keep a moving company on retainer - because on paper, this doesn't look pretty.
There is surely more to come on the story, but for another very good take on the situation, check out Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.