Dontae Strickland was the first signal that Bobby Acosta had arrived and planted an Orange flag in New Jersey. Strickland was the best running back in the state, and had offers from many peer schools, including the state university of NJ (Rutgers), Georgia and Louisville according to Syracuse.com's Nate Mink. Despite the best efforts of his high school coach to push him to Rutgers and late interest from the Bulldogs, Dontae chose to be bold, and signed his letter of intent to attend Syracuse University.
Georgia's late push for Strickland had barely bubbled up into the public realm, if at all. No offer ever came, mostly because Strickland rebuffed its interest.
"At first I felt like maybe I could branch off," Strickland said in his home Tuesday evening, less than 12 hours before signing with Syracuse. "But then I looked back at reality and I was just like nah, I don't want to do them dirty. They were here from the jump. They got something planned for me. Just because Georgia had a few recruits slip up, just to come at me last minute, it wasn't real."
High School: South Brunswick HS, New Jersey
Position: Running Back
Stats: 6'0'', 180lbs
Main Recruiter: Bobby Acosta
Commitment Date: June 7th
Ratings: Scout (3), Rivals (3), ESPN (3), 24/7 (4)
Other Offers: Georgia Tech, Indiana, UMass, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Ben's Breakdown: Strickland immediately might be the most dynamic running back we have in our stable for next year. With Erv Philips being moved out into the slot, Dontae will compete right away with George Morris II, Devante McFarlane, and the other two freshman running backs coming in, Jordan Fredericks and Tyrone Perkins. Strickland can catch the ball out of the backfield, has the moves to get past defenders, and has the speed once he gets past defenders to take it to the house. He also has the size to be an every down back, whether it's between the tackles or outside.
Another thing I love about this kid is that once he chose the Orange, he stuck to his commitment. Despite some nervy moments after fellow New Jersey DB Daiquan Kelly flipped to PSU, Dontae stuck with Scott Shafer and co. Not only did he stay Orange, but he worked to get garden staters Daivon Ellison and Jake Pickard to join the cause (unfortunately he missed on Najee Clayton but we won't hold that against him).
This kid is one of the most exciting and highly regarded backs we've landed in a while, since Delone Carter chose the Orange a long time ago.