Tuesday, February 4, 2014 2:55pm
Here's an inside look at Syracuse's 2014 recruiting class.
Head Coach: Scott Shafer
Total Number of Expected Signees: 24
National Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals.com: No. 44 (2002), No. 53 (2003), No. 50 (2004) under Paul Pasqualoni; No. 56 (2005), No. 52 (2006), No. 48 (2007) No. 48 (2008) under Greg Robinson; No. 118 (2009), No. 78 (2010), No. 76 (2011), No. 66 (2012), under Doug Marrone; No. 74 (2013) under Shafer
Scout.com: No. 36 (2002), No. 62 (2003), No. 50 (2004) under Paul Pasqualoni; No. 49 (2005), No. 51 (2006), No. 46 (2007), No. 50 (2008) under Greg Robinson; No. 102 (2009), No. 53 (2010), No. 51 (2011), No. 54 (2012) under Doug Marrone; No. 73 (2013) under Scott Shafer
247Sports.com: No. 67 (2011), No. 58 (2012) under Doug Marrone; No. 70 (2013) under Scott Shafer
ACC Rankings (Rivals.com): No. 12 (2013)
2014 Syracuse ACC & National Rankings By Network
ESPN: Unranked (not in top 40)
Rivals.com: No. 11 ACC, No. 52 overall nationally
Scout.com: No. 11 ACC, No. 73 overall nationally
247Sports.com: No. 10 ACC, No. 50 overall nationally
Signee Breakdown by Star Rating:
Rivals.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (1), Three Stars (15), Two Stars (8)
Scout.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (1), Three Stars (16), Two Stars (8)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (1), Three Stars (20), Two Stars (3)
States Represented (11): Florida (6), Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (3), Alabama (1), Connecticut (1), Georgia (2), Michigan (1), New Jersey (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Tennessee (1)
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees: Corey Cooper, A.J. Long
Unconfirmed Academics: Naesean Howard, Ervin Phillips
Breakdown by Position: Defensive Backs (6), Linebackers (4), Wide Receivers (4), Defensive Linemen (4), Quarterbacks (2), Running Backs (2), Offensive Linemen (2)
Defensive line coach Tim Daoust searched far and wide for talent for Syracuse over the past year, and he wound up playing a vital role in six commitments for the Orange from five different states. Daoust went to Philadelphia and snagged a pair of quality additions---Neumann Goretti wide receiver Jamal Custis and La Salle linebacker Zaire Franklin---and at home in New York State he went to Camillus and got a commmitment from Naesean Howard, a running back out of West Genesee Senior High. He also secured a prospect out of New Jersey, landing defensive back Rodney Williams from Cherry Hill West High. Daoust also helped add to the ranks of his own position group by landing defensive end Chris Slayton from Crete-Monee High School in Crete (Ill.), and then just prior to Signing Day Pinson (Ala.), Jalen Harvey, who plays defensive tackle.
10 Key Misses
Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) linebacker Jaboree Williams (Wake Forest), Lombard (Ill.) linebacker Nile Sykes (Notre Dame), Brooklyn (N.Y.) defensive tackle Cory Johnson (Kentucky), East St. Louis (Mo.) linebacker Kyron Watson (Kansas), Buffalo (N.Y.) running back Qadree Ollison (Pittsburgh), Brooklyn (N.Y.) defensive tackle Jay Hayes (Notre Dame), Rock Hill (S.C.) defensive tackle Zeek Rodney (Wake Forest), Miami (Fla.) cornerback Trumaine Washington (Louisville), Lithonia (Ga.) defensive tackle Kayton Samuels (Georgia State), Garden City (N.Y.) offensive tackle Chad Mavety (Florida State).
Syracuse Recruiting Storylines
- Coming off a 2013 season in which Syracuse ranked in the bottom half of the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring defense (eighth, allowing 25.4 points per game), pass efficiency defense (ninth, 127.0 efficiency rating), and pass defense (ninth, 229.8 yards allowed per game), the Orange coaches elected to make the secondary its single-biggest focus in terms of positions. As a result, Syracuse is signing six projected defensive backs on Wednesday. That’s the most cornerbacks and safeties in a single class for the Orange since 2009, when Marrone’s staff brought in seven projected DBs. In turn, the Syracuse coaches elected to hold off on recruiting a large number of offensive linemen in the 2014 class after signing a combined 13 projected offensive linemen over a three-class stretch between 2011 and 2013. The only offensive lineman in the 2014 class for the Orange is Aaron Roberts, a 6-6, 195-pounder out of Chicago’s De La Salle High School.
- Syracuse’s 2013 signing class diminished by multiple players in the latter days before Signing Day following the departure of Doug Marrone to the Buffalo Bills, but this year, with Scott Shafer and his staff more established and better organized, the Orange have surged at the end of the 2014 recruiting cycle. Starting December 15, with the pledge of Largo (Fla.) defensive back Cordell Hudson, Syracuse landed eight commitments over the next eight weeks, including six pledges from January 19 on. Sunday, February 2 alone the Orange added four commitments, interestingly enough all from the Southeast. Syracuse got pledges from Delray Beach (Fla.) wide receiver Adly Enoicy, Homestead (Fla.) defensive back Antwan Cordy, Pinson (Ala.) defensive tackle Jalen Harvey, and Suwanee (Ga.) linebacker Jonathan Thomas on the final weekend before Signing Day. It likely helped Syracuse’s cause that Enoicy, Cordy, Harvey, and Thomas were able to attend the epic overtime basketball game between the undefeated Orange and Duke in the Carrier Dome the day before they all committed.
- For a variety of reasons, Syracuse doesn’t tap into the same kind of in-state home recruiting base that many Atlantic Coast Conference schools enjoy. There’s typically not nearly as many major-conference football prospects in the state of New York compared with most other ACC member states, and Syracuse’s unique location in upstate New York makes recruiting around New York City or its suburbs no more effective location-wise than recruiting parts of Pennsylvania and New England. 2014 marks the second straight recruiting cycle under Shafer that the Orange are bringing in recruits from 11 or more states. And over the past two recruiting classes (2013 and 2014), the Orange have signed just three New York natives. After a similarly slow start, signing just three New York state residents in the 2009 class, Doug Marrone and his staff signed a total of 29 prospects from the Empire State over the 2010 to 2012 classes. Marrone’s predecessor, Greg Robinson, also recruited large numbers of players from within the borders of New York, landing a total of 22 in-state players for the Orange between 2006 and 2008. Going by those historical trends, it figures that Syracuse’s in-state recruiting will improve in the coming years, as Shafer and his staff gets settled in and more familiar with the high schools and talent within the borders of the Empire State.
- One state that Syracuse wouldn’t figure to be recruiting heavily---and hasn’t typically recruited heavily in the past---has suddenly become one of the program’s most fertile grounds for future talent. That state is Illinois, where the Orange landed nearly a quarter of its total (five) in the 2014 class, and more than any other state in this class -- with exception of Florida -- from which the Orange also got five commitments. Syracuse can credit its success in Illinois partially to quarterbacks coach Tim Lester (a Wheaton native), who helped the Orange secure linebacker Colton Moskal from Lake Zurich. But much of the work in Illinois was done by running backs coach DeAndre Smith, who went to Chicago to land defensive back Lamar Dawson and offensive lineman Aaron Roberts, and to East St. Louis to secure defensive back Treevon Prater. This constitutes a marked shift from the recruiting efforts of the Doug Marrone era at Syracuse, as the Orange didn’t sign a single Illinois native during his tenure. This new recruiting trend for Syracuse in Illinois didn’t really begin until Shafer arrived and the Orange got late commitments in the 2013 class from Jerseyville (Ill.) quarterback Mitch Kimble and Chicago Simeon offensive lineman Kendall Moore.
A Closer Look At ...
K.J. Williams, WR (6-2, 190) Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 246 overall nationally, No. 31 wide receiver, No. 3 in Pennsylvania)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 50 wide receiver, No. 8 in Pennsylvania)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 21 athlete, No. 5 in Pennsylvania)
Lead Recruiter: Rob Moore, Pat Perles
Williams, a Rivals 250 prospect, was the only consensus four-star prospect in this signing class for the Orange. He was a multi-purpose standout at Liberty High School, catching 59 passes for 986 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior season in 2013 while adding three interceptions (one returned for touchdown) and serving as Liberty’s kickoff and punt return man, as well as his team’s kicker and punter. Over his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, Williams combined for over 1,700 receiving yards and 26 all-purpose touchdowns. For his efforts, Williams was named Player of the Year by the Lehigh Valley Express-Times following his senior season. Williams was named one of the top ten performers nationally in the 2013 Rivals Camp Series following his solid performance at the Newark (N.J.) event. “(Williams) showed the great speed and explosiveness that put defensive backs on their heels at the Newark RCS. One of things that stood out was how many times Williams could be seen diving for catches. Williams is continuing to improve his route running and flexibility,” said the Rivals network after his impressive Newark outing.
Aaron Roberts, OL (6-6, 295) Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 38 in Illinois)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 54 in Illinois)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 66 offensive guard, No. 38 in Illinois)
Lead Recruiter(s): DeAndre Smith
Roberts---Syracuse’s lone offensive line signee in the 2014 class---is a key part of the program’s recruiting shift to the Midwest and specifically Illinois. Roberts played on a star-studded De La Salle squad that included fellow offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, who is heading to Ohio State, and running back Mikale Wilbon, who is going to Nebraska. He chose the Orange over scholarship offers from Illinois, Ball State, New Mexico, and Southern Illinois, among others. Roberts is projected as an offensive guard by all three major networks (Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com).
Naesean Howard, RB/CB (5-11, 190) Camillus (N.Y.) West Genesee Senior
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 7 in New York)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 108 running back back, No. 7 in New York)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 46 running back, No. 7 in New York)
Lead Recruiter(s): Tim Daoust
Howard, a native of nearby Camillus, was the very first member of Syracuse’s 2014 signing class, pledging to the Orange in early March 2013 (nearly three months before anyone else). As a senior in 2013 at West Genesee Senior High School, Howard ran for 861 yards (averaging better than 120 rushing yards per game), scoring 11 touchdowns. He added 25 tackles on defense and an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He was named third-team Class AA All-State in New York his junior season in 2012 for his play at cornerback. Howard’s is a story of redemption, as he got into some legal trouble in 2010 stemming from a robbery charge. Howard went through Syracuse’s Pre-Trial Release Program and probation, and was able to get his life and football career back on track.
Why They Chose Syracuse
I like how they treat me, show me attention. And I can't see myself without orange on again. When I think of Syracuse, I think of home because it's always good wearing orange and blue again. I’m feeling this life.
---East St. Louis (Mo.) defensive back Treevon Prater to CuseConfidential.com
I felt comfortable with the coaches and the other commitments and other players (who) are there. (Fellow Syracuse commit) Zaire Franklin, our friendship that we’ve built already, that definitely was a factor. Having him and A.J. Long there, egging me on, made it that much better. They want the team to be the best it can be. So for them to want me and view me as that important, I’m just happy to be a part of it. Definitely the coaches and their relationship with one another was huge. They’ve been together for a while. Definitely the campus. I love the campus. The Dome obviously and the fans. They all play a big role in it. Then the players already there making it feel like a family atmosphere. That was very important to me.
---Lake Zurich (Ill.) linebacker Colton Moskal to CuseNation.com
I was excited (to commit to the Orange) because most of my favorite players went to Syracuse, Arthur Jones, Chandler Jones and Dwight Freeney. Since they played at Syracuse that is what has me really excited. Coach (Tim) Daoust. He is cool, man, real funny and just laid back. They are a good team overall. Mostly I know them because of basketball and their great basketball program. That is really what I know about them.
---Pinson (Ala.) defensive tackle Jalen Harvey to CuseConfidential.com
I felt like I could go to Syracuse and make a big impact. I felt like they could mold me into the player that I want to be. I kind of had a feeling I was going to end up going to Syracuse. When I went up to Syracuse, everything felt right. Then when coach (Shafer) came for the in-home visit, it just sealed it. Syracuse fans can expect a leader both on and off the field. I like to be a role model for younger kids. So I'll definitely do my best to show a positive image for the Orange. I’m going to all out ball out on the field.
---Largo (Fla.) cornerback Cordell Hudson to CuseNation.com