Syracuse is looking for speed and players to fill their running back/wide receiver-hybrid "H-back" role in the 2016 recruiting cycle. With offensive coordinator Tim Lester's scheme stressing being "multiple" and using various personnel combinations to get the best athletes on the field, these hybrid players stand to be used quite a bit, one would assume. They've already added an H-back/ATH for 2016, in Georgia product Darius Stubbs. And while they're still looking for one more, similar player in this cycle, they're very much in the race for TWO of them right now.
One of those, three-star (St. Louis) Missouri back Tre Bryant, included Syracuse in his recent top-five this week and late yesterday, he provided some feedback on the Orange and the recruiting process while talking to Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey.
On why SU, Bryant mentions "vibe of the school" as a main factor, and cited that he really likes the Orange coaches as people -- not a surprise given the feedback most people share about the group Shafer's put together. It -- their "family" vibe and genuine, caring outlook -- have been one of the staff's biggest strengths and it's good to see it factor in again here.
Bryant also talked fit and the obvious question around what position he would/could play (he lines up at both running back and in the slot at Christian Brothers College High School):
"Basically (Lester) likes to put players out in space. He likes to move players out to different spots and create mismatches."
"I would say I'm more comfortable at running back, but I'm also comfortable at slot," Bryant said. "If I had to choose one it would be running back, but it's not a major factor in my decision."
So that's a relief, given the widely-discussed promise to Robert Washington that he'd be the only true running back in the 2016 class. But as Dan and I mentioned on the podcast the other day, some creative wordsmithing could probably get another "non-traditional" back into the fold -- which may also mean SU has a shot to land both Bryant AND Washington's close friend Moe Neal, the other aforementioned H-back target.
Regarding both players (Bryant and Neal), Bryant took his visit on June 23 and has no timetable set to choose between the Orange, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Neal, on the other hand, will be making his visit to SU on July 16. He has also yet to give a firm timeline on his decision, which will come down to Syracuse, Boston College, Duke, Mississippi State and Wake Forest.
Is there a preference, if we had to choose between Neal and Bryant? I'd say it's probably Neal, because he's slightly more touted, has the RW connection (further solidifying that commitment) and could even open up the floodgates for more of their well-regarded pals in the 2016 and 2017 classes. But is there a situation where we CAN get both? You can never have enough speed on the roster, of course, but at some point you can't get everybody on the field enough.
... Interesting quandary to have for SU. Let's see how it plays out.