Countdown to Camp 2017

Countdown to Camp: Ravian Pierce provides a dynamic Dino Babers hasn’t had in a tight end

Tony D. Curtis | Staff Photographer

Ravian Pierce, once a four-star recruit on ESPN, found his way to Syracuse after two years in junior college, and not a moment too soon for Dino Babers.

UPDATED: July 31, 2017 at 1:45 p.m.

Syracuse football’s training camp begins July 30. Every day leading up to camp, The Daily Orange’s football beat writers will take a look at some of the upcoming season’s most pressing storylines, players and position battles. Read more on the Countdown to Camp here.

Position: Tight end

Year: Junior

Ht: 6-3

Wt: 237

Why he’s key for SU: Last year, Syracuse tight ends pulled in six catches for 49 yards total. Last year, Ravian Pierce had six or more catches, as well as 49 or more yards, in five of his team’s nine games. This is to say that Pierce brings an offensive weapon to Syracuse that it did not have in 2016.

Syracuse has five tight ends listed on the roster, but three are walk-ons and none come close to matching Pierce. The junior comes with all of the credentials (a former four-star recruit) and measurables (6-3, 237) to become one of the best tight end’s Dino Babers has had in his offense. His size and speed may strain defenses attempting to shadow Pierce and shifty slot receiver Ervin Philips.

Pierce transferred after spending two years at Southwestern Mississippi Community College, which played Eastern Mississippi Community College in 2015. The next year, EMCC rose to “Last Chance U” fame via Netflix documentary. Pierce scored a 54-yard touchdown in SMCC’s 69-20 loss. Pierce was once committed to Mississippi State before attending SMCC, and he was rated as a three-star prospect and the junior college 2017 class’ No. 20 overall player, according to 247Sports.com.

However, as NunesMagician.com noted, Babers likes to spread his receivers out wide and has not traditionally used his tight ends to catch passes. In the last three years at Syracuse and Bowling Green combined, Babers starting tight ends averaged 8.3 catches, 51 yards and one touchdown per year, and the majority of that production came from Derek Lee at BGSU in 2015.

Furthering the case for SU’s expanded tight end role, incoming freshman Aaron Hackett, expected to back-up Pierce, told Syracuse.com, “They want me to be a receiving threat downfield, a guy they can get the ball to consistently.”

With three departures in SU’s top six pass-catchers from last season, there are 204 targets that need to be replaced and Pierce makes the most sense to start hauling them in.  

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