Syracuse Orange football's recruiting strategy has changed quite a bit since George McDonald's departure, as you probably know already. With big names like Robert Washington committing and other highly-regarded players showing SU the time of day too, there's a new sense that we can go out and get anyone.
And that's pretty apparent based on how the ESPN Junior 300 is currently playing out in 2017. Thus far, just one of SU's two 2017 commitments -- Florida wide receiver Daewood Davis (No. 222) -- is on the list. But the names of plenty of the Orange's other priority targets appear quite a bit too. Going down the list:
No. 2, OT Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
No. 45, WR Trevon Grimes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
No. 47, OT Micah Clarke (Holmdel, N.J.)
No. 53, ATH Anthony Hines III (Plano, Tex.)
No. 102, WR Tarik Black (Cheshire, Conn.)
No. 127, DT Fred Hansard (Princeton, N.J.)
No. 150, WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. (Calabasas, Calif.)
No. 185, DE Luiji Vilain (Alexandria, Va.)
Obviously, Syracuse isn't getting all of those players to commit for 2017. In fact, there's a pretty good chance none of them end up going with the Orange, especially given how "cool" interest seems to be between those players and SU (though it is early). That said, you can't hate on 'Cuse for aiming high on a lot of these guys and making it known that they're out for the top players in the country. Plus, look at where these kids are from: New York City (self-explanatory), Fort Lauderdale (Miami-Dade and Broward counties has been a recent recruiting hotspot for SU), New Jersey (/waves at Bobby Acosta) and the program's unsung JUCO hotbed, L.A. County. Again, none of this guarantees anything. Still, the Orange suddenly don't seem so over their heads here.
We'll have to see what happens as the class of 2017 starts to shake out -- which is not all that soon, given that we're still right in the thick of 2016's cycle still. Any school can offer any player they want, theoretically. If you look up most of the players above on recruiting sites, you'll find offers from Alabama all the way down to UConn. Where Syracuse is taking the next step now, it seems, is the staff is beginning to be strategic with how these offers go out. The step after that, of course, is winning a few more of these battles with the big names. Washington was a step there. And Davis could be another. The next 12 months of recruiting, almost exclusive of on-the-field results, should tell you all you'll need to know about this staff and the program's trajectory.