Colin Byrne finds niche as starter at center for Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 3, 2016 at 11:45 pm Contact Tomer: tdlanger@syr.edu | @tomer_langer UPDATED: Oct. 4 at 8:30 p.m.After making his first collegiate start against South Florida, center Colin Byrne received praise from starting quarterback Eric Dungey, despite some low snaps. After the next game against Connecticut, head coach Dino Babers first said he couldn’t single out an offensive lineman who impressed him. He then said he was excited about the job Byrne did in his second start.For the former St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida) High School tackle, this wasn’t the way he, or anybody else, envisioned how his SU career would unfold. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t ready.“I was up for the challenge and it’s worked out for me in the best way possible,” Byrne said.After sitting out a year and changing positions, Byrne has made an impact on Syracuse’s season. With no timetable for the return of incumbent starter Jason Emerich, it’ll be the redshirt freshman who’s tasked with leading Syracuse’s (2-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) young and inexperienced offensive line. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThree out of Byrne’s four seasons at St Thomas Aquinas (Florida) High School resulted in state championships at the powerhouse school which played against top competition. But when he got to Syracuse he ended up having to redshirt, something he wasn’t planning on doing. “I came to Syracuse and I sat my freshman year, and that was a little disappointing,” Byrne said. “But you just gotta drop the ‘E’ and gotta go. Drop the ego.” Byrne’s high school coach, Rocco Casullo, thought Byrne was good enough to contribute immediately, but told Byrne to just “keep doing what you’re doing,” that things would work out for him. He knew Byrne would be ready coming from a school such as St. Thomas Aquinas, which he said had practice regimens on par with some collegiate programs. “It’s more comfortable and they’re used to it,” Casullo said. “They’re college ready.”He credited Dino Babers’ offensive scheme, as well as the work by co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mike Lynch, as to why Byrne has looked good through three games so far.Former head coach Scott Shafer’s staff recruited Byrne as a tackle and redshirted him at the position. But this past training camp Babers’ coaching staff decided to test him out at center.Babers cited Byrne’s athletic build — being “long-bodied” and his ability to move well — as part of the reasons the coaching staff decided Byrne could physically play the position. “It was an opportunity for him to get on the field a lot faster,” Babers said. “When we made the move we didn’t think he’d have to go this year.” Byrne said learning to play center proved to be challenging because of all the extra checks and calls that had to be made. But Casullo cited Byrne’s intelligence as to why he could find success in a tough transition. Byrne has always been a vocal leader who’s played with a chip on his shoulder, Casullo said. Babers emphasized he had certain personality traits that made the coaching staff think a move to center would work out.“Let’s just say if he was a movie star, he’d be riding a chopper with his sleeves of his jacket chopped off and a bunch of tattoos,” Babers said. There have been moments where Byrne has struggled. A couple of snaps to Dungey haven’t been on target, and the offensive line as a whole has committed some crucial penalties that have pushed back Orange drives. But he’s also still learning and improving every week. And after finding playing time at a foreign position, Byrne is finding his niche. “Sometimes you gotta take a step down and learn a lot of things before you come to college and that’s exactly what I did,” Byrne said. “… I did my job and I can always get better and do better.”CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Rocco Casullo was misidentified. Casullo, whose correct first name is Rocco, was Colin Byrne’s high school coach. The Daily Orange regrets these errors. Commentslast_img

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