Graham: Eric Dungey is the most important quarterback in Syracuse history

first_img Published on December 29, 2018 at 9:16 pm UPDATED: January 2, 2019 at 8:55 p.m.ORLANDO, Fla. — Sitting at the podium, after winning the most important game of his career, Eric Dungey tried to reflect — to consider what the last four years, 39 games and 20 individual records meant.He started, then he broke down.“It’s kind of starting to hit me now,” Dungey said, choking through tears. “I’m just very thankful. I know I’ve been through a lot. To have Coach Babers believe in me, it just means a lot, you know. Coach (Scott) Shafer brought me in here originally. All I want to do is complete. And I’m going to get grief for crying, man, but I’ve been through a lot here.”The cocky, chippy, gunslinging quarterback that Syracuse fans adore was moved to tears thinking about his career at SU.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJosh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerDungey is the most important Syracuse quarterback ever. Loyalists to Don McPherson and 1987 might differ on Dungey, still bemoaning McPherson’s Heisman stiff. Donovan McNabb partisans who remember that win at Michigan Stadium in 1998 will feel differently, too. A good quarterback can resurrect a team and a bad one can cripple a squad.But no quarterback at SU has gone through so much — endured so many lean years, downtrodden moments and flat out embarrassing losses — as Dungey. And then, in his senior year, he put his body on the line 13 more times to try and drag Syracuse, his team, out of the abyss.The payoff? The former three-star recruit from Oregon, who had offers from Wyoming and Montana State, delivered one of the Orange’s greatest-ever seasons.“All I’ve ever tried to do is just come in and give it my all,” Dungey said. “Try to make the guys around me better, try to be the best leader I can. You know, being captain, that’s one of the biggest accomplishments for me … I want to be remembered as a leader.”He was not supposed to be the savior. He wasn’t even supposed to play his freshman year, but Terrel Hunt’s Achilles tendon had other plans and Dungey was pressed into action Week 1. Then he threw a touchdown pass on his first drive. Facebook Twitter Google+ Andrew Graham is a senior staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at andrew.graham@dailyorange.com or @A_E_Graham on Twitter.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the graphical representation of  the top five career passing yards incorrectly pictured Donovan McNabb.  The Daily Orange regrets this error. Commentscenter_img He created plays in the huddle, much to the chagrin of then-offensive coordinator Tim Lester. He loved to challenge defenders in the run game — his signature move is the hurdle — when his coaches wished he’d slide.Dungey’s career is storied, enduring worse circumstances than McPherson or McNabb ever played in. He played a season for Shafer, the often-quotable, often-losing coach who got fired at the end of Dungey’s freshman campaign. It’s hard to forget that afternoon in Louisville in 2015, where Shafer left Dungey in a blowout only for the freshman to suffer a concussion.Shafer was on the way out and Dungey’s season ended prematurely. Though the quarterback’s legend grew in central New York for his reckless abandon and sizzling play, Syracuse was never good. Dungey put up gaudy numbers in Dino Babers offense, but the Orange didn’t win a fifth game either of Babers’ first two seasons. Dungey missed the last four games both times.Then everything fell into place, and in leading the Orange to a 10-win season, Dungey cemented his legacy as one of the all-time Syracuse greats.Ali Harford | Senior Staff DesignerMcPherson, of all that 1987 glory, played for a team that had a winning record the year before he stepped on campus and a winning record his freshman season while he waited to play. He played for one coach, Dick MacPherson, his entire time at SU. He took a solid team and elevated it to new heights.McNabb headlined the glory years of the Paul Pasqualoni era of SU football, but never won 10 games. He played on a team with future NFL Hall of Famers in a well established program. And in four years — and more games played — his stats don’t measure up to Dungey’s.Dungey is Syracuse’s all-time leading passer with 9,340 yards, eclipsing Ryan Nassib on Friday night. He holds or shares 19 other individual Syracuse records, while missing 11 games in his career. Dungey, in his Syracuse tenure, averaged 2,873.8 yards per 12 games through the air. Add 11 more, and he’d easily have topped 10,000, or even 11 or 12,000 yards in his career. But Dungey isn’t only a stat sheet star.His hyper-competitiveness is well known. He’s risked his own health to win football games for Syracuse, more so than his coaches and fans would like at times.“When it comes to Eric Dungey, the tall tales are true,” Babers said Friday at his postgame press conference. “The stories are true. You know, we’re going to be telling them for a very long time and after 10 or 15 years, people are going to be calling bologna and cheese, that there’s no way that he threw an interception and ripped the ball out of a defensive lineman’s hand and got the ball back for a 1st and 10. Or that he got move left, move right, move left, and found Moe Neal down the middle for a huge play that changed the game.“The guy is amazing.”Paul Schlesinger | Staff PhotographerIf Babers was the agent of change, Dungey was the catalyst.Babers recruited his players, ran his practices and instilled his ways on the program, but none of that matters if players aren’t receptive and the wins don’t come. When your quarterback buys in, that changes everything.Dungey led Syracuse to one of its greatest seasons and more than that, laid the foundation for the Dino Babers Era.Syracuse football is back, and it wouldn’t be — maybe even couldn’t be — without it’s quarterback, No. 2, Eric Dungey.last_img

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