The first day of what is known as college football’s “early signing day” yielded a total of 17 players (both high school and junior-college players) signing on to play for Dino Babers and the Syracuse Orange. The six-days-before-Christmas returns brought in four defensive linemen, four defensive backs, and three linebackers, along with players for various other positions.
And it appears as though the leader of SU football views the class as incomplete, for now.
In a press release from the school, head coach Babers stated that he and his team are “far away, but we’re not that far away.” A reference to Syracuse’s recent rise, a 9-3 record in 2018, and to one of its biggest issues: depth. Something that Babers clearly targeted in his search of potential incoming talent. “We’re very competitive on the field right now, but we’re not as deep as we need to be to be able to do the things that we want to do.”
It’s evident that Babers believes he and his staff have a foundation in place on which to build off of for now. A big development for any coach, especially one who just signed an extension to stay in charge of the program for some years to come. The soon-to-be fourth-year coach for Syracuse, though, appears to be targeting not just 2019, but 2020 and beyond.
“We’ve got to build our depth up so that we can consistently be good enough to occasionally have the type of season that’s outstanding. That only comes with fantastic depth.”
A couple of notable commits who could make an instant type of impact are linebackers Mikel Jones (Miami, Fl) and Lee Kpogba (Winston Salem, NC), who were both considered four-star worthy by some in the recruiting fields. ESPN had Jones in its top 300, and Rivals included Kpogba in its Top 250. A couple of recruiting “whoas” for a program like Syracuse, and two who, at the least, will help represent replacing senior starters Kielan Whitner and Ryan Guthrie.
Then there is defensive lineman Cooper Dawson (Hanahan, SC), who made headlines for his talent and for his “early signing day” reveal. Dawson had offers from Central Florida, UCLA, Virginia, and a school known as Clemson. Not too shabby.
The only early-signing day juco was offensive lineman Darius Tisdal (South Brunswick, NJ). The Big was pursued by big-name programs and could be in the mix to fill holes on the o-line left by Koda Martin and Cody Conway. The six-foot-five, 295-pound Tisdale is, according to the school, is also a cousin of running back Dontae Strickland. And while it’s not at all likely to be true, Tisdal might too be related to former hoops star Scoop Jardine. Either way, this whole “Tisdal is a cousin of Strickland” thing will eventually morph into “Tisdal is a brother of former SU running back Dontae Strickland.”
For the recruits in the class to this point, Babers comes across as content but also someone not completely satisfied. The head coach said his staff has done a “nice job” in the recruiting process so far. Babers claimed he and his assistants are “very unique” in the way they recruit. “It’s a lot of team recruiting. We go out and evaluate and gather talent indididually, but once we bring them back, we evaluate and recruit as a group.”
Babers’ message to fans is that he and everyone associated with Syracuse football “do our homework very well, and we bring the right type of student-athletes here to Syracuse.” Which is something of note, because the incoming class of ‘19 isn’t completely set. That won’t be official until this spring. Meaning, in due time, this class that is some distant, great or small, from being where it needs to be might just get there.