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National Signing Day Roundtable: Recapping Syracuse's Day and Assessing the Future

John and Sean start reading into what happened on National Signing Day, and what comes next.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With the dust sort of settled on National Signing Day for the Syracuse Orange, it's probably worth summing up the (pretty early) morning that was and what comes next for SU football. Sean and I dive into the program's most pressing questions for you, as the focus starts shifting to spring practice.

Because recruiting’s about assigning random grades, grade the job Dino Babers and staff did in such a short time frame:

Sean Keeley: I’ll go B+. I think had he landed a four- or five-star stud that was considered unattainable beforehand that would have gotten him to an A but all things considered I think his staff did a fantastic job working at a new school with limited time and with half a class already filled. Not to mention that he went out and got so many guys that he wanted. That one weekend when SU went nine-for-nine is still mind boggling.

John Cassillo: B+ sounds fair. Though I'd be tempted to give an A, if only for the fact that Syracuse replaced most of its class in a matter of weeks, and still looks like they came out ahead anyway. No matter which completely subjective grade you assign to Babers or this class, there's still a lot to like about the incoming talent and their fit as the program shifts to the new staff's image.

The 2016 recruit flying under the radar who's going to blow away expectations will be…

SK: This is a total guess but I’m gonna throw Carl Jones out there. He comes in as an athlete so he’s got a chance to fit in where he fits in. Army and Air Force were both after him so I’ll take that as a sign of high character`and work ethic. I could see him developing into a star returner or maybe surprising us all as a good corner.

JC: Going with Devon Clarke, just to get a different answer in. Clarke has wanted to be a member of this team for a long time, and that sort of determination allows me to look past his size and see an impact defensive back for Syracuse. Considering how much help we still need back there, a desire to succeed there might be the best asset of all for a player.

How shocked were you that Rashad Smith -- not Jaquwan Nelson -- was a Signing Day flip from Syracuse?

SK: I try not to get too shocked about anything with recruits and National Signing Day. Perhaps we were so focused on Nelson that we didn’t see the writing on the wall with Smith. Like everything else, who knows if Smith will end up paying dividends. We won’t know if we got screwed or saved for a few years.

JC: Thinking about it, Smith was pretty quiet about the process -- much less so than Nelson was. Maybe that should've been a tip. Obviously we forget the aspect distance plays in all of this sometimes. And for a Florida kid, perhaps he just really preferred being closer to home. Something must have lured him to FAU to begin with and there are several Florida schools in between their station and Syracuse's, respectively. Regardless, wish him the best of luck.

Five years from now, the Class of 2016 offensive recruit we're going to miss most will be…

SK: Rex Culpepper, considering he’s just led us to back-to-back National Championships and won a Heisman Trophy. So...yeah.

JC: Jo-El Shaw. The return of the tank package will be swift. And it will go by the name of Shaw. We won't realize how much he mattered until he's gone.

Five years from now, the Class of 2016 defensive recruit we're going to miss most will be…

SK: Kenneth Ruff. I always skew linebackers when assuming a Syracuse defensive guy is going to make a leap. We always have at least one freshman linebacker who makes an impact and ends up as a cornerstone of the unit. He’s my pick.

JC: McKinley Williams. He's not the most heralded name in the class, and that's fine. The level of defensive tackles Syracuse recruits rarely are. But Williams has the size and athleticism to disrupt opposing teams a ton and with some time in a college weight room, he could round into a force.

The Class of 2016 recruit who will have the biggest immediate impact this September is…

SK: I’ll stick with Ruff for the reasons previously-given. There’s always one freshman linebacker who makes an impact. He’s the most likely.

JC: Jaquwan Nelson gets the nod, but you could make the case for any of the defensive ends. It's a thin position and that means freshmen will likely be competing for snaps right away. He seems to have a skill set that could be plugged in from week one, and grow from there.

The Class of 2016 recruit whose Twitterfeed you're dreading following for the next four years…

SK: Honestly I don’t see too many offenders out there. Maybe I’m just numb to it all. From what I can tell, it looks like McKinley Williams is the most likely to be a serial retweeter so I’ll live in fear of him for now.

JC: Tim Walton retweeted EVERYTHING leading up to his commitment. I don't blame him for that, but it also makes for a busy feed. As previously stated, I don't follow recruits or current players anyway, so I get to avoid no matter who the pick is here.

Is Dino done for the class of 2016? Or does he have more up his sleeve?

SK: There’s room to fill so I don’t see why he’s not out there scouring the JUCOs and guys who didn’t sign. I expect to see a name or two added to the roster before we’re done.

JC: JUCO guys are reasonable post-Signing Day gets, and the well-traveled Babers might have enough connections at them to grab a few solid names. Still convinced he's been quietly eroding MAC classes behind the scenes too, so be on the lookout through the rest of the week.


There you have it. Syracuse's 2016 class may be in the books, but we're just getting our heads around what that'll mean for the next four or five years.

Care to weigh in on the questions above? Share your responses below.