Syracuse Orange football coach Dino Babers addressed the media on Wednesday, just hours after all 22 members of Syracuse’s 2017 recruiting class signed their respective National Letters of Intent to play for the Orange. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from his press conference.
Where are thou playing, Elmore?
In Babers’ opening remarks, he rattled off the number of players Syracuse signed at each respective position group. “We’re really excited about the four defensive lineman, two offensive lineman, two defensive backs, four linebackers, one quarterback, four wide receivers, two running backs, two tight ends and one full back,” Babers said.
While, at first glance, this appears to be just a head coach giving equal praise to all of his signees, the key takeaway here is the “one full back” listed. Three-star prospect Chris Elmore has experience playing both defensive tackle and full back, but he was primarily listed as a defensive tackle on most recruiting sites, and as a result we listed him as such.
However, at first glance, following Babers’ press conference, it now appears Elmore will see more playing time at the H-back position than we previously believed. He’s listed at 5’11.5” and 278 pounds.
Tommy “Denzel Washington in Glory” DeVito
Babers is notorious for his movie and television references, and he didn’t disappoint on Wednesday. In addition to his clever and humorous welcome tweets, Babers also made a point to compare quarterback Tommy DeVito’s steadfast commitment to Syracuse to Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington’s portrayal in “Glory.”
“He was always committed to Syracuse University, and he never wavered,” Babers said. “He was kind of like Denzel Washington in the movie ‘Glory.’ He was holding that flag at the end. Everybody was popping bullets in him, but he just held that flag – he held onto that ‘S.’ Okay, and he kept waving and he brought this class in with the other recruits. I couldn’t be prouder [sic] of him and his family.”
Babers went on to praise DeVito’s willingness to not only better himself, but go out of his way to recruit fellow prospects and promote Syracuse football. “All of that stuff was done on his own,” Babers said. “It wasn’t done when he was underneath our watch. We weren’t coaching him, we weren’t directing him. I loved his desire, I loved his will.”
Side note: someone needs to do a Tommy DeVito “Glory” flag-waving Photoshop job, ASAP!
2016 and 2017 class is the ‘foundation’
Last year, Babers repeatedly said the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes should be viewed as a “blend,” as Babers didn’t have a full year to recruit his own personal, and would later become the initial steps towards success. One year later, and Babers doubled-down on his claim, describing the 40 combined players between the two classes as the groundwork for what’s to come.
“You can see that there is a good base, there’s a good foundation there,” Babers said. “And that’s what we talked about last year, and it was good that we could solidify that so we can start building on that for 2018, 2019.”
Babers made sure to temper expectations, however, saying, “We’re not totally there. We’re really close.”
The system sells
Babers said what many fans have believed for months now, Syracuse’s high-paced offense HAS to be helping with recruiting, in terms of both high school prospects and college transfers.
While Babers didn’t quite flat-out proclaim this, he did say the fact that graduate transfer Amba Etta-Tawo was able to produce such prolific numbers and be named a third team All-American in his lone year at SU has certainly helped Syracuse develop into a more favorable destination when recruiting offensive skill position players.
“I think sometimes you see young men in different programs, or maybe those bigger programs, and they feel like they’re not getting a fair shake and want to go somewhere,” Babers said. “And instead of playing for a certain color uniform on their chest, they want to play for a system...And with those young men, I think they’re going to look favorable on our program based off of the things with what Amba has been doing, transferring from Maryland and ending up being a third team All-American.”
Watch Babers’ full press conference below.