The Syracuse Orange’s National Signing Day was a success, as every player that was expected to join the 2017 class did so, and the program even got an additional commitment late in the day. SU’s recruits also looked to be a step up from previous classes in several cases, and most importantly, a fit for the system Dino Babers wants to run.
One notable trend for the class was a strong focus on the state of Florida.
Florida and Texas are typically your top spots for college football recruits, while New York State is not. That doesn’t mean quality prospects can’t come from New York. It just means it’s a whole lot less likely and prevalent than what you see in Florida and Texas (among other states).
Since Dino Babers arrived at SU last year, he’s secured commitments from 12 different Florida players, and 11 of them ended up on campus (James Pierre did not). Before Babers, Scott Shafer also made overtures to the Sunshine State, and succeeded enough that nine Florida natives are still on the roster from the 2013-2015 classes.
That makes 20 (!!!) players from Florida on the Orange roster right now, or 25 percent of the current (assuming all signees make it to campus) players for 2017. The full list, separated by class:
Nadarius Fagan, Aaron Hackett, Sharod Johnson, Ravian Pierce, Markenzy Pierre
Scoop Bradshaw, Devon Clarke, Rex Culpepper, Jaquwan Nelson, Kenneth Ruff, McKinley Williams
Colin Byrne, Sam Clausman, Sterling Hofrichter
Antwan Cordy, Juwan Dowels, Adly Enoicy, Cordell Hudson, Steve Ishmael
Those Shafer classes had plenty of Florida talent, and four of the five 2014 Floridians are poised to play major roles in 2017.
But Babers has doubled down on the state, with an eye on the speed it produces in droves. Though Texas may have brought the Air Raid to the masses, it’s Florida (especially South Florida) speed that helps various spread offenses run at many other outposts.
It’s also what’s drawing these kids up here for Babers. When Shafer arrived, George McDonald was supposed to be his Florida recruiting extraordinaire. He wasn’t, despite some wins down there. The offense simply wasn’t enough of a draw (though the defensive scheme was enticing) to bring kids from the sun up to the cold of SU.
But if Babers keeps up this sort of pace (over a quarter of the last two years of recruits have been from Florida), we could be seeing a roster that is starkly different from the one he inherited. Tommy Devito aside, New Jersey’s off the radar for the last two years and Georgia isn’t nearly as important as it was. Those states --- especially the once-important NJ — have been replaced by an even larger investment in Florida and new focuses on Ohio and Michigan.
In the end, the states these players are from don’t necessarily matter. Just like the stars, the high schools, and other factors that are tossed by the wayside once they walk in the doors at Syracuse. Dino Babers is recruiting the players that are best tailored to his system and its success. If that means the entire roster is from Florida, that would be just fine.
Syracuse plays in the state of Florida twice this season, for those that forgot. Beating — or more likely, staying competitive with — Florida State and Miami could go a long way toward even more Sunshine State prospects headed up to SU.