It's been nearly two days, and the buzz still hasn't worn off for the Syracuse corner of the internet. Highly-rated football recruit Robert Washington committed to the Orange on Saturday, bringing with him about as much hype and hope as any SU commit ever has. And while the obvious benefits of Washington come from his (eventual) on-field production, he could end up being the first of several big-name recruits to look SU's way this recruiting cycle.
Of course, "looking our way" is one thing -- and that happens a decent amount already with notable recruits. But what Washington brings is an early, meaningful endorsement. And one that could end up opening the floodgates for the Orange's best class of the recruiting rankings era. That's not conjecture, either. Washington himself says he's up for the challenge:
Can confirm at least 4 (anonymous) recruits that have already been contacted by 2016 Syracuse commit Robert Washington.— Scott Brown (@RivalsSyracuse) April 26, 2015
You have to love the early initiative, and the more interest RW can garner in SU, the more likely it is this works. But who might some of these friends or connections be, and what are the odds Syracuse can actually land them too? We break down the full list below of all of the potential targets, most with at least some sort of tie to Washington...
Class of 2016
Dwayne Haskins, QB (Potomac, Md.)
Otto's Grove pulled together a great piece about the possibility of landing Haskins back on Saturday -- one which you should definitely read over. Haskins, who's a 4-star prospect and the fifth-best QB in the entire class of 2016 (per 247), is friends with Washington and that could pay some big dividends for an SU program that didn't really think it had a shot as recently as Friday. That's not to say they're favorites here by any means. Haskins is still an elite prospect and one that will choose his own school based on what's the best fit for him. But after seeing encouraging tweets like these congratulations or this interaction with Washington and QB coach (and SU alum) Madei Williams, it at least gets us thinking a bit, no?
Christian Colon, DT (Charlotte, N.C.)
Colon's a close friend of Washington's, and Syracuse actually extended him an offer last week too. Same as Haskins, we're sort of late to the party, but that's not necessarily a bad thing -- especially given the connection he has with RW that could help us make up ground quickly. The 3-star tackle already has some great size (6'3" and 325 pounds) which could be awful helpful for an Orange team that needs more line depth quickly.
Moe Neal, RB (Gastonia, N.C.)
No, it might not make the most sense for Neal to slot himself behind Washington on the Orange depth chart, nor would it seem to make sense for Washington to recruit his competition. But the two are very good friends, and playing together (as they did for the Team USA U-18 squad) could be a motivating factor above immediate playing time. Consider this a longshot for now, as the 3-star back does have offers from a host of other ACC schools along with Mississippi State (and others).
Will Eason, CB (Huntersville, N.C.)
Eason's unrated at the moment, but doubt that lasts much longer given the interest he's been able to garner from some bigger schools. He and Washington are very close friends, and the two have been teammates for the last three seasons at Southlake Christian Academy. The Orange always need secondary help, and with a Washington connection, it could benefit both parties for an offer to be extended. Keep an eye out over here.
Fred Hasnard, DT (Princeton, N.J.)
This one isn't clear-cut, but that's perfectly okay... especially for a 4-star talent that's one of the best interior D-linemen in the country. SU offered him back in March, and soon after Washington's announcement, the big tackle retweeted this message. Sure that could mean anything, or even nothing at all. But as we mention elsewhere too, sometimes the best connection to Washington is just the fact that he's a similarly notable recruit and he's interested in Syracuse.
Jared Mayden, CB (Sachse, Tex.)
Texas is not Syracuse's typical stomping grounds, but hear me out... there's a Washington link (they played together on Team USA) and they might even be cousins (at least based on this tweet from Robert Washington Sr.). Family's a strong pull for some players -- but it's also not the only one. Especially when you're a 4-star like Mayden getting buzz from nearly every school in the country. It's a stretch, but SU isn't out of it just yet.
Gene Coleman II, WR (Oradell, N.J.)
Coleman doesn't have connections to Washington... yet. But RW's Saturday decision did prompt a quick text from Daivon Ellison (SU '15) encouraging Coleman to give a little more thought to the Orange. The two players know one another from their time as rivals with Bergen Catholic (Coleman) and Don Bosco Prep (Ellison), and Syracuse's recruitment of him has picked up of late. The 3-star receiver is definitely a hard Rutgers lean right now, but we'll see if that changes at all.
DJ Daniels, QB (Wilson, N.C.)
Daniels may not be Syracuse's first target at QB in the class of 2016, but if things don't come through on the other options they have in mind, Daniels could end up getting a look. The 3-star dual-threat passer has an offer in-hand from Boston College, and interest from Wake, NC State and Duke. The Orange won't be active on him right off the bat, but could down the road, especially with a Washington connection to help out there.
Thomas Lopez, OT (Middletown, N.J.)
This sounds like an endorsement on the heels of RW's commitment, no? No offer yet from Syracuse toward Lopez but that could change quickly. We'll see what type of evaluation he gets on the recruiting services since he's currently unrated. You'd assume he will be seen in a positive light given nearly every Mid-Atlantic school coming up as a possibility.
Jake Fuzak, LB (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Another Team USA friend of Washington's, recruiting Fuzak would be made a bit easier by him being in our next of the woods already, and the fact that he's currently seen as a 2-star talent. That's no knock on him at all, though. We've seen a lot of similarly-rated, local players do very well on the Hill. Right now, Buffalo and UConn look like the only interested parties, so SU could look to time things out depending on who else jumps into his recruitment.
Kenny Yeboah, WR (Allentown, Penn.)
Another one of those reactions to Washington's commitment, we'll see if Yeboah starts to rise in the eyes of recruiters -- in particular, Syracuse's. Yeboah has great size and could certainly garner some interest for a team that needs as many wideouts as it can get its hands on.
Chima Dunga, DE/FB (North Arlington, N.J.)
Dunga is already on Syracuse's watch list a bit, and could be another one of those kids who's flying under the radar at the moment. He and Washington know one another, and between that and his New Jersey ties, that could make him a great fit provided the interest gets stronger there on SU's end.
Carter McLellan, LB (Huntersville, N.C.)
Not high on the list at the moment, as he really hasn't been well-scouted by any of the major recruiting services yet. But that's never deterred this staff before and if Washington pushes on it at all, he may at least get a look. He was good enough to make the aforementioned U-18... could be something there that others just haven't seen yet.
Clifton Duck, CB (Matthews, N.C.)
A kid local to Washington and interested in Syracuse, it seems? It could end up being a match depending on how much his recruitment heats up nationally. Michigan interest is encouraging, though the argument right now may be about his very slim frame (5'9" and 145 pounds). If he bulks up, expect more buzz to start.
Class of 2017
Aapri Washington, WR (Huntersville, N.C.)
Of course Robert's cousin Aapri is tops on this list. Again, no guarantees with family, and the receiver is already picking up some big time offers. His cousin's positive reactions with our fan base to-date could provide an assist, but there's a very long way to go here -- even with Robert's help.
TJ Sanders, LB (Mount Holly, N.C.)
One of Washington's closest friends, Sanders was on-site this past Saturday for Robert's announcement. While talking to Dan Tortora, Robert mentioned Sanders as a potential 2017 candidate and described him as a possible flex linebacker/nickel back. Nothing online about him just yet, but that doesn't mean there won't be.
Jamyest Williams, DB (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
I wouldn't hold my breath for this 4-star defensive back, but worth pointing out the RW link. Wouldn't mind at all if Williams was one of the players Washington focused on in terms of helping SU recruit, that's for sure.
So what do we think? Obviously some targets are bigger than others, but lots of names to think about as the 2016 recruiting period starts to get rolling. Fingers crossed on this end we can land a few more big names and turn this year's class into something truly special.