Jones leaves program, LB Carter returns

first_img Comments Syracuse’s first practice of the spring wasn’t defined by a singular play on the field. Rather, it was simply about who suited up.After being removed from the pre-spring depth chart due to academic issues, sophomore linebacker E.J. Carter was back practicing with the Orange Monday. And on the other side of the ball, wide receiver and kick returner Mike Jones was absent from practice. Jones informed the team of his leave Monday.‘You know, it was a shock,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said of Jones’ decision to leave the team.Marrone found out about Jones’ decision to leave the team at 12:45 p.m Monday and said he ‘is no longer a part of the team’ following practice in the Iocolano-Petty Football Complex of Manley Field House later in the day. He will join former starting center Jim McKenzie as a player who had eligibility but will not be with SU in 2010. McKenzie left the team after receiving his undergraduate degree with the goal of attending medical school.  ‘I don’t understand it,’ Marrone said of Jones leaving the team. ‘I think he’d be better off commenting on that. You know, again, like I told you the time frame: 12:45.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJones caught his teammates off guard as well. The rising sophomore was slotted to start as the Z receiver on the depth chart after playing in every game last year as a running back and as the team’s primary kick returner.Derrell Smith said he woke up Monday morning and thought about seeing his former teammate out there on the practice field. But just hours later, that vision was far from reality.‘I mean, obviously you have to move on,’ Smith said. ‘That was a big loss. Yeah, so it was like a shock to me when I found out this morning. But the team has to go on. We lost one player.’Before Monday it appeared the returning starter most likely to miss the spring’s first practice was Carter, not Jones. But Carter was back out there Monday as part of a linebacking unit that was the highlight of the day for the SU team. By Marrone’s own admission, the defense is slightly ahead of the offense at this point thanks to the fact that the offense is learning a new system.But even with that, Carter said he is just happy Marrone took the time out to help him get back on the field.‘I just felt I needed some time alone, some time to take a step back and focus on my academics,’ Carter said. ‘And that time helped me out a lot, and Coach Marrone helped me step by step.’Filling the gapWith the loss of Jones, Syracuse finds itself in an even deeper hole at the wide receiver position. Jones was listed at the head of the depth chart at the Z wide receiver position, but now someone will need to step up.That player could be Aaron Weaver.Weaver is a 6-foot-2 senior transfer out of Hofstra. He left Hofstra for Syracuse after the Pride shut down its football program.Heading into the spring, Marrone expected a great deal from the Division I-AA veteran. But now, with Jones gone, Weaver becomes a more integral part of the team. And after one practice, it appears as if he is a viable candidate to fill that role.‘We just kind of moved some people around, just kind of moved everyone up one,’ Marrone said. ‘But I think it will give someone an extra opportunity to go. And Weaver from Hofstra, he looked good today. He played well today. So maybe someone can step up and play that position.’Even though there has been only one practice between the two of them, Weaver and sophomore quarterback Ryan Nassib are already trying to become familiar with each other. Nassib, who refers to the transfer from Hofstra as ‘Weav,’ had high praise for the receiver. Nassib wasn’t afraid to harp on what exactly he will bring to the receiving core –– experience.‘Weav’s a vet,’ Nassib said. ‘He’s been around the league playing ball for a long time. He’s got some skills that not a lot of receivers have. He’s our only senior receiver, and you know, he has been around the game and he has a lot to offer to the team as well as some of the other guys.’Now, Weaver is in a prime position to get the playing time Jones may have been able to grab. But just like the rest of the receivers, he says he is just trying to remain focused on learning a new offensive system. Even if he is a veteran, the learning process will take time. And now the talk of the team is him and the other receivers, not Jones.‘When I talked to Mike (Jones), Mike was a good guy,’ Weaver said. ‘I’m sure he had his own reasons as to why he left the team, and it has nothing to do with me.’[email protected] Published on March 22, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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