Raymon gives Syracuse new force on defensive line

Ziniu Chen | Staff Photographer

John Raymon is projected to start for Syracuse this fall after transferring from Iowa.

The first thing that stands out about John Raymon is his size. As he stands with his arm around Jay Bromley in the Hall of Fame Lobby in the Iocolano-Petty Football Wing, he makes even his interior linemate look small.

Raymon worked with the scout team, but watched from the stands during his first season at Syracuse a year ago. Still, his massive 6-foot-5, 319-pound frame and year of experience at Iowa is intriguing. He has the potential — and pedigree — to become a staple of the Orange’s defensive line.

“Just a lot of explosion, a lot of creativity and just a big body that wants to go forward,” Bromley said. “We both have a lot of things to work on, like fundamentals, but as far as getting penetration, he can do that. Hands down.”

This season, Raymon steps in to that spot in the heart of the SU defense. After a year of learning as a redshirt following his transfer from Iowa, Raymon has a chance to showcase just what that body can do on the football field as the frontrunner for the starting defensive tackle job alongside Bromley.

Raymon nearly had a chance to get started with Syracuse last season. The ruling that he had to sit out a year after transferring came down late. Instead, he toiled away on the scout team, taking a year to adjust to the new program and school.

Raymon left Iowa just a month and a half into his freshman season. He admits now that he was too far from home and just not ready for a Big Ten school.

“I wasn’t ready,” Raymon said. “Football-wise, I couldn’t balance out football and academics.”

So the year to adjust at SU was a plus. He didn’t travel so he could go to recitations and never had to miss class. He got to go home on weekends to see his newborn son, Jaden, who was born while he was at Iowa.

It also gave him a season to adjust on the football field. There are few offensive linemen — especially interior ones — who can match up with Raymon’s size. Raymon is taller and heavier than each of the Orange’s interior linemen, and only one player on the entire team is bigger in either category. It means he can bully his opponent and wreak havoc on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.

“He gets in the backfield tremendously well,” running back George Morris III said. “He uses his power and he uses his strength, his raw strength, just to get back there and just make plays.”

But it’s not just a matter of raw size and strength for the defensive tackle, but how he uses his body. It’s not always conventional — that’s what Bromley means when he describes him as “creative” — but he manages to make it work, even if it’s not the best way technically.

Defensive line coach Tim Daoust is a stickler for the technical, but in Raymon’s case, Bromley said, he makes an exception. As long as he works hard and does damage in the backfield, Daoust lets the lack of technicality slide.

“I kind of just shed them,” Raymon said. “Get off the ball faster than they can get up. If I get up faster than they can get up, I can throw them down and get in the backfield, and I love getting in the backfield. Because you can only make plays in the backfield and that’s how you make your money.”

Though much of the Orange’s defense returns, there is a fair amount of turnover on the defensive line, particularly at the end position. Syracuse will count on Raymon to make his unusual style work alongside fellow tackle Bromley, and make up for the pressure lost a season ago.

Jaden is coming up for the spring game banquet, and Raymon’s parents will bring him to Syracuse for home games, but now, Raymon will be on the field, instead of watching with Jaden from the bleachers.

“I’m learning new things I didn’t know when I was back at Iowa,” Raymon said, “so I’m happy to be here.”


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