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National Signing Day Recap: Kingsley Jonathan and more bolster Syracuse defense

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Syracuse added 11 defensive players to the class of 2017.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange capped off National Signing Day in relatively quick fashion, with all 18 of SU’s remaining commits signing within three hours after the opening 7 a.m. ET window. Of Syracuse’s 22 commits – including the four who previously signed and are already on campus – 11 are primarily defensive players (some nice symmetry there, SU).

Chris Elmore, DT

While he certainly could play right away, the idea right now would probably be to redshirt so he can add some more muscle and also learn under what should be a strong group of defensive tackles on the roster.

Curtis Harper, DT

(Harper and Elmore) could conceivably become key contributors as true freshmen as Syracuse returns just four defensive tackles, including two – in junior Steven Clark and redshirt junior Kayton Samuels – who suffered significant injuries.

Kingsley Jonathan, DE

In addition to his large 6’4”, 220-pound frame, Jonathan also has the size to quickly pursue opposing quarterbacks and running backs. The three-star defensive end finished the 2015 season with 104 tackles (44 solo), including eight for loss and five sacks, according to 247Sports.

Zach Morton, DE

While there are a number of experienced players ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s still too early to overlook Morton as a potential contributor for next season.

Brandon Berry, DE

Despite having one more year of collegiate experience over fellow Syracuse Class of 2017 defensive ends Zach Morton and Jonathan Kinglsey, Berry will still have a tough time carving out playing time this season, with five DEs already returning.

Nadarius Fagan, LB

Fagan is immensely talented (again, see offer list), and with a 4.55-second 40-yard dash time, he could potentially push for some playing time in his first year — being on campus early should only help that, too.

Ryan Guthrie, LB

Now-senior leaders Zaire Franklin and Paris Bennett were the motors that ran this defense in 2016. Replacing them won’t be easy, but having Guthrie and others learn under them in their final year should prove helpful toward the future.

Tyrell Richards, LB

Richards comes in as the type of linebacker Babers will most likely be looking for going forward. Taller (than we had), but slimmer -- could play safety in a lot of systems.

Eric Coley, CB

Coley shows off some speed and has an ability to get a hand on the football. Syracuse is very much in need of defensive backs in the short and long term, so there’s no counting out true freshmen playing once again this fall.

Ifeatu Melifonwu, S

The younger Melifonwu isn’t huge for a safety, but he can grow into a bigger frame should the team need him to. His current measurables are actually ideal for the type of player Dino Babers wants along the back line, though.

Kadeem Trotter, LB/S

Trotter is rated the No. 92 safety by 247Sports, but is projected to primarily play at the strong-side linebacker spot in Syracuse’s Tampa-2 defensive scheme, covering tight ends and slot receivers.