With 3rd receiver spot open, Sales confident he has advantage

first_img Published on September 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm Standing among Syracuse fans in the Carrier Dome end zone after April’s spring game, Marcus Sales blended in as just another one of Syracuse’s players. Nary a reporter or fan approached the second-string Sales, as the wide receiver basked in the obscure glory of his 158-yard, two-touchdown performance against SU’s second-team defense. For Sales, the wide receiver of very few words, the postgame was ideal. He could stay to himself and know what exactly the performance he put out on the field that day was. He was just doing his job. ‘That’s my job, to catch the ball,’ Sales said after the spring game. ‘It’s just my job to go out there and do work.’ Fast forward five months, and the mentality is still the same. Sales still knows he can do it. But there is only one problem. Through three games, his coaches — through their decision to not play him — have exhibited they think he can not. The junior has not stepped on the field once in three games — not even receiving garbage-minute reps last week against lowly Maine after the No. 3 wide receiver spot opened up with the season-ending injury to Aaron Weaver. Sales has been forgotten. But the mentality is the same. He still swears, silently, he has it.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘I actually still feel the same way. I never lost confidence,’ Sales said Wednesday. ‘I have been getting mentally stronger through this process that I am going through. Not playing and encouraging my teammates and things like that.’ To Sales, it has been exactly that: a process. It is a process of doing some things he is familiar with: speaking softly. But at the same time, doing something he is not familiar with: speaking softly, but doing it in complete 60-minute trials as a leftover piece to the puzzle on the sideline. That wasn’t always the case. Last season, he hauled in 28 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Against Connecticut, he made seven catches for 89 yards. Now with Weaver out, Sales is competing with junior Dorian Graham, walk-on Cody Morgan and, perhaps his greatest competition, freshman Steve Rene, for that third wide receiving slot. Sales is the favorite, listed in that third spot on the depth chart. It hasn’t been a secret Sales is that ‘What happened to him?’ guy on the depth chart. Numerous times throughout the summer and fall, SU head coach Doug Marrone has brought up Sales’ name in press conferences. Sometimes at his own will. It has almost been a waiting game for Marrone and the coaching staff with Sales. Waiting for him to do something. Anything. ‘Marcus Sales will play more, and we need to see him step up and play well for us,’ Marrone said Monday. ‘Dorian Graham will also be in there and Cody (Morgan). Marcus Sales has the most experience, and he can play two positions, so we have him backing up at X and the third Z right now. We look at it to increase his playing time.’ But thus far, it has been a waiting game for Sales, as well. He hasn’t had the chance to do something, or anything. But the confidence is still there. The silent sureness remains. Sales thinks he has the advantage, by far, at receiver. He is the most advanced, he said. He is just waiting for that silence to become opportunity on Saturday. It is almost as if he is promising it after five months of nothing. ‘I am the most advanced receiver in the group, so I think I have an advantage,’ Sales said. ‘I think we will find out after Saturday who the third receiver is. Hopefully it will answer everyone’s questions about who it is.’ The story behind ‘catch one for Aaron’ As Aaron Weaver’s best friend and roommate, Jose Cruz knew he needed to give him four hours. After a season-ending injury, even best friends need to give a guy in Weaver’s situation four hours to be. Four hours to just remain alone. After those four hours — and about 76 hours after Weaver left SU’s practice last Wednesday knowing his season, and maybe career, was over — Cruz did everything he could for Weaver. It included writing his fallen former Hofstra teammate’s name and numbers on his arm. It included consolation that Wednesday night. And 76 hours later, it included catching the game-swinging touchdown for Weaver. And it concluded with an immediate embrace on the sidelines. ‘We have been through a lot together,’ Cruz said. ‘I gave him his space for a little while. I think he went home around 5 or 6 (p.m.), I didn’t talk to him until around 10 at night or so.’ Added Cruz: ‘That’s my roommate. So the first person I wanted to see was Aaron. He was the first person I went up to on the sidelines behind the coaches on the sidelines. For me it was something special, my first touchdown ever in college. First person I thought of when they confirmed it was Aaron.’ Never, ever look up into the stands What is the main piece of advice Ricky Krautman — SU kicker Ross Krautman’s brother and a former Orange kicker in his own right from 2003 to 2005 — gives to his sibling daily? Never lift your head any further than you need to. Ever. The sightline must be the field. ‘I talk to him almost every day, and he says to never look up in the stands,’ Ross said. Thus far this year, it appears little brother has been listening. Krautman, a freshman walk-on who won the starting job over returning starter Ryan Lichtenstein in preseason camp, is 4-for-5 on field goals with a long of 47. For Krautman, who looks to be securing his spot for the rest of the season daily, his success comes down to that Krautman-bred focus. It’s about the sightline. It’s about not looking into any stadium’s stands until the time you leave the tunnel. It’s about being a kicker with vertical blinders. From there the mind is blank, and nothing goes through Krautman’s head. Excitement and comfort are not allowed. Just the life of a kicker. A Krautman kicker. ‘You tend to lose focus,’ Krautman said. ‘It’s always just stay focused in the game. You never know when you are going to go out and kick.’ aolivero@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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