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Syracuse Recruiting: Breaking Down the Running Back Situation

What prototype is Syracuse looking for at the QB position in this recruiting class and beyond?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we started to look at the QB position and broke down the prototype for a Syracuse QB. Today, we’re going to look at the RB situation, dissect the committed recruits, and see what we’re looking at moving forward.

On Campus

Prince-Tyson Gulley, Redshirt Senior

Adonis Ameen-Moore, True Senior

Devante McFarlane, Redshirt Sophomore

George Morris II, Redshirt Sophomore

Ervin Philips, True Freshman

2015 Recruits

Dontae Strickland, South Brunswick HS, NJ (@tae_strick_23) – Strickland is Syracuse’s biggest recruit on the offensive side of the ball, and started the Orange’s re-emergence in the garden state recruiting scene. (Also it's always fun to pull a kid "off the banks of the old Raritan"...)

From the first run on his tape, you can see why Dontae is a coveted recruit. He makes a strong cut in the backfield and explodes into the secondary, where he jukes the defensive back to run untouched to the end zone. He has great vision, waits for his blockers to get set before he hits the holes, and then kicks into a second gear to separate from the defense. Strickland also catches the ball well out of the backfield, which will be important in this offense. Finally, he can run inside and off tackle, a versatility that Syracuse has lacked in recent years.

Offers - Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Old Dominion, Temple, UMass

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Jordan Fredericks, Lawrence HS, NY (@jfred_beastmode) - Fredericks committed a week after Tyrone Perkins and ensured that the Orange landed arguably the two top running backs in New York.

Fredericks is another kid that, like Strickland, has that uncanny ability to make defenders miss. He accelerates well out of his cuts, and also has that second gear when he gets into the open field. Jordan is very comfortable receiving the ball out of the backfield, and once he gets in open space he makes things happen. He’s also comfortable running inside and off tackle (see a trend here?). His balance is excellent, as he is nearly tripped up quite a few times but recovers very well.

Offers – Syracuse, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Temple

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Tyrone Perkins, Friends Academy, NY (@tperk33) - Perkins got the ball rolling for the 2015 recruiting class as he was the first player to commit to the Orange back in April. He averaged almost 11 yards a carry in his junior season (although the competition isn’t the strongest in his area).

Perkins’ commitment was a surprise even to those of us that are obsessed with recruiting. But looking at his tape, it’s easy to see what the staff saw in him to offer a full scholarship. He, like the other two committed backs, has a great ability to change direction and make defenders miss. Based on the competition he plays, it’s hard to tell if he has the second gear that the other two have, but it’s always impressive to see a player hurdle over two defenders. He has good hands out of the backfield as well.

Offers – Syracuse

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Moving Forward

Of the current players on the Orange roster, only Erv Philips was recruited with George McDonald’s offensive system in mind. However, it’s apparent that George Morris and Devante McFarlane both fit the system very well and will be ones to watch moving forward. I expect both to get a fair share of carries this season, especially with PTG’s injury history.

While Syracuse isn’t running exactly the same system, I think you’ll see a lot of similarities between the Orange and UCLA. Noel Mazzone and the Syracuse offensive staff had a meeting of the minds last winter. One place it will differ greatly is the running back position. While UCLA has power backs and guys that can be a "change of pace" back, with our recruiting it appears we've made a move away from this and towards shifty and quick RBs that can make plays in the open field. It’s also important for the backs to be able to catch the ball. Erv Philips fits this description well, and the current RB recruits we have committed also fit that mold. The common trend in evaluating all the tapes above shows you that we know exactly what we’re looking for at the running back position. Don’t expect the Orange to go after power backs like Jerome Smith and Adonis Ameen-Moore anymore, as this offense is built to play fast and get people open in space.

The Orange looked their best last season late in games when the offensive line had worn down the defense and this allowed our RBs to make plays and break off big chunks of yardage. I expect Syracuse to try and run the ball at the same clip as last season, and for this to continue in the future. However, I can also see more swing passes and screen passes to the running backs out of the backfield. It will be interesting to see how we use our RB stable this season.

The Orange have quite a target interested in them at the RB position in 2016, and his name is Robert Washington (@RDubb_5). Washington has a very tight relationship with the staff, and has an excellent list of offers. For those that want to un-retire 44, this is a kid that would be worthy (personally I believe the number should stay retired). He’s visiting Syracuse for the Florida State game this season, and you can be sure the staff will roll out the red carpet for his visit.

With two running backs out after this season and three in, the Orange are done for 2015, and will probably only be taking one in 2016.