The Syracuse Orange football program is always looking to get ahead of the recruiting cycle, given its place in the larger picture of the sport.
When you’re in the middle of a rebuild, you’re not necessarily asking kids to buy into on-field results as much as potential early playing time and the promise of getting better (with their help). Upset wins over teams like Virginia Tech and Clemson clearly help show that progress is being made. But appealing to talented players early can help the Orange get set up to withstand a little attrition later on.
At no position is that more critical than quarterback, where players usually commit pretty early and are more prone to staying with their original team. It’s even more important in a year like this one, where there are only a handful of blue-chip recruits. That leaves top programs scrambling, and that also has a trickle-down effect on other Power Five teams like Syracuse.
While SU has several young quarterbacks on the roster -- Tommy DeVito, Rex Culpepper and Chance Amie (plus Clayton Welch, who’s also been granted a scholarship) -- it’s ideal to add another player in this cycle as soon as we can.
Syracuse could be getting closer to that goal after this weekend’s news:
Sam Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound passer from Walled Lake, Mich. has included the Orange in his top five, along with Boston College, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri. In the 247Sports composite, they have him as the 20th-best pro-style quarterback in the country, and the three-star prospect is also ranked as the 680th-best prospect overall. As Stephen Bailey mentioned on Syracuse.com, Michigan and Boston College already have 2019 quarterback pledges. That doesn’t mean they’ll avoid a second if they have the room and he wants to join. However, that would seem to give a slight edge to the other three programs for the time being.
Johnson is one of a handful of quarterbacks that Dino Babers has his eye on in this cycle. According to 247Sports, there are 12 prospects with offers in-hand. Only a few are uncommitted, however. Those players (other than Johnson):
- Jayden Daniels, dual-threat, California (4 stars)
- Jacob Zeno, pro-style, Texas (3 stars)
- George Johnson III, dual-threat, Florida (3 stars)
- Gunner Cruz, pro-style, Arizona (3 stars)
- Curt Casteel, pro-style, Florida (3 stars)
- Nate Martens, pro-style, Missouri (3 stars)
247 lists Johnson and Martens as the players we have the best shot at. Obviously you really want Gunner Cruz, just for the name and the fact that he either sounds like a tertiary character from “Top Gun” or a hot-shot new Jaeger pilot added to “Pacific Rim” at the last second.
Nothing on visits yet for any of these players, but hopefully Syracuse is able to move soon as we get into the heart of the offseason. In past years, the Orange have made early QB additions like Culpepper and DeVito. However, Amie flipped from Houston during early signing day in the 2018 class. So it can work to make a late push as well.