SYRACUSE — When the Syracuse University football defense is on the sidelines working through adjustments with their coaches, the unit can’t help but peek up to the big screen to get a glimpse of the Sean Tucker show.

Returning defensive seniors, coming off a bye, mentioned earlier this week how much they enjoy watching the second-year freshman running back chase the SU single-season rushing record.

Entering Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference game at Louisville — slated to kick off at noon and be televised locally on the YES Network — Tucker is 105 yards shy of matching Joe Morris for the single-season mark of 1,372 set in 1979.

Syracuse defenders are not only appreciative of the additional rest that comes with being on a team with the nation’s second-leading but are reveling in his pursuit of history.

“We have time to draw up plays, draw up what we see, discuss what’s going on and what we’re seeing on the field, and still watch Sean Tucker on the sidelines,” said SU veteran defensive lineman Kingsley Jonathan.

“It’s a show any time for us on defense, we just love any time they’re back on the field,” he added. “We’re sitting on the sideline watching him on that big screen we have in the Dome, seeing him do what he does. We’re not surprised he’s this good, we saw what he did in the spring ball and in fall camp and the work he’s put in.”

Sixth-year senior defensive lineman Josh Black has declared himself as Tucker’s “No. 1 fan,” and said that the emerging star has earned universal respect in the SU locker room with his performance and approach.

When the normally reserved running back chooses to speak, Black said, he garners the attention of every player from the Orange (5-4 overall, 2-3 ACC).

“It’s overall so impactful not just for the offense, but the defensive guys as well, watching a young player like that lead the nation in yards,” Black said. “It’s so inspiring to see that because he just works his tail off, he’s a product of his environment, he works his butt off all the time and gets other people to work hard with him, too, and it’s a contagious attitude he brings.”

Black is also among the many SU fans checking Twitter following each game waiting for Tucker’s weekly update.

The SU running back has made a habit of posting the team result and his stat line with the repeated phrase: “I was pleased with my performance,” after each outing.

The quick and to-the-point posts have become a viral sensation and represent the shy and humble character portrayed in his media appearances.

“I’m the self-proclaimed No. 1 Sean Tucker fan,” Black said. “I claim it, no one else can claim it, his social media is just hilarious and he’s not even trying, that’s what makes it so funny and unique. He just likes keeping tabs on himself, keeping other people updated on how he does in the games, and he’s basically turned into a giant meme.”

Tucker enters the final three-game stretch for SU with 1,267 rushing yards, trailing only Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III by 73 for the top spot in the FBS. He is currently third on the SU all-time list for a single season and needs 80 yards to match Walter Reyes (1,347 in 2003) for No. 2 all-time.

Tucker is coming off an SU record seven straight 100-yard rushing performances and his 11 career 100-yard outings is tied with Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Delone Carter for the sixth-most in Orange history.

PENA, VETTORELLO OUT

Syracuse coach Dino Babers stated during his weekly press conference that redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Carlos Vettorello and freshman wide receiver/kick returner Trebor Pena are likely out for the season due to respective injuries.

Both players missed the pre-bye victory over Boston College on Oct. 30. Vettorello suffered an apparent leg injury in the Oct. 23 victory over Virginia Tech. Pena was on the sideline with his arm in a sling for the BC outing.

PAUL IN ACC HONORS CLASS

SU alum Markus Paul is a member of the ACC Honors Class announced this week that will be recognized on Dec. 3, the night before the conference championship game.

Paul is the SU record holder for career interceptions with 19 as a four-year starter and two-time finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, and he was a pivotal contributor to SU’s undefeated team in 1987.

Paul became a successful NFL strength-and-conditioning coach as part of five Super Bowl champion teams. He died from a heart attack at age 54 last November.

NATIONAL AWARD WATCH

Kingsley Jonathan was named a semifinalist for the Jason Witten Man of the Year Award while cornerback Darian Chestnut is up for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.

Jonathan was a CoSIDA Academic All-American last year and won the ACC’s Jim Tatum Award, presented to the league’s top senior football student-athlete. He has 15.5 career sacks in 55 games at SU.

Chestnut was one of 37 FBS and six ACC players named to the watch list after logging two interceptions, two sacks, and 36 tackles thus far in his rookie campaign.

Winners for each honor will be announced in December.

HARRIS COMMITS TO UK

Former SU wide receiver Taj Harris announced a verbal commitment to play for Kentucky in 2022.

Harris left SU via the transfer portal last month and finished with 151 catches to rank fourth in team history, to go with 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns in 37 career games. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

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