On Wednesday, the Syracuse Orange picked up their first junior college commitment for the class of 2017. Linebacker Ryan Guthrie, from Ellsworth College in Iowa, signed with the Orange shortly after the offer came through.
The hope with Guthrie and Davis, as it always is with JUCO players, is that you can quickly plug in experience while allowing youth to develop AND avoid taking up a roster spot for too long. For some programs (like Syracuse), it’s a stop gap. For others, like Kansas State, it’s an institution and virtually the only way they know how to recruit.
Syracuse doesn’t want to turn into KSU. But it wouldn’t mind finding a similar rate of success as the Wildcats when it comes to quality JUCO additions.
Recent history shows the Orange with mixed results on that front.
Going back to the 2010 recruiting class, SU has brought in 17 different junior college, though only four over the last four classes (including 2017). Some of those have been major additions, others haven’t been. A quick look at all of those players:
Trey Dunkelberger, TE: appeared in one game (2015), transferred to Western Illinois
Ted Taylor, LB: played in 24 games and recorded 43 tackles, including 6.5 for loss.
Luke Arciniega, LB: decided to forgo final season of eligibility following injury-filled career
Darius Kelly, S: played in 25 games, starting 12 and recorded 69 tackles, defended eight passes and grabbed an interception
Josh Kirkland, LB: played minimally but effectively in place of injured regulars
Michael Lasker, OT: played in 18 games, including one start
John Miller, C: started 15 games at center over the course of two seasons
Trevon Trejo, DE: rarely saw the field, but appeared in 10 games
Zian Jones, DT: recorded four tackles for loss and 23 tackles overall in 25 games
Markus Pierce-Brewster, LB: dismissed after arrest and felony charge
Siriki Diabate, LB: defensive co-captain as a senior, started 14 of 24 games, recorded 101 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss
Michael Hay, OT: started 24 games in two seasons, blocking for two 1,000-yard rushers
Deon Goggins, DT: started 25 games, recording 96 tackles and 16 tackles for loss
Orlando Fisher, S: largely a special teamer for two seasons
Lou Alexander, OT: played in seven games (with four starts) in 2011
As you probably noticed, the success stories are largely backloaded to Doug Marrone’s years. But those teams also relied more heavily on JUCO talent, too. Marrone’s connections around the New York area (and the California pipeline they had going for awhile) lent themselves to attracting a ton of guys from Nassau Community College on Long Island, in particular — with two (Diabate, Hay) of those three (Fisher was the other) paying huge dividends.
Scott Shafer’s first season was also filled with JUCO prospects as he looked to rebuild a recruiting class on the fly following Marrone’s departure. Unfortunately, his rate of success was far lower, however, coloring both the current depth issue and the talent deficits those teams faced.
None of this is to create any generalizations about Guthrie or any other JUCO players Babers may plan to add this cycle. Each coach is different, and each finds success with players in their own way. Marrone did reasonably well with junior college talent, while Shafer didn’t. Perhaps Babers ends up swinging the pendulum of luck back the other way.