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Syracuse football scholarship breakdown update for class of 2019

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How are we looking as the recruiting class of 2019 takes shape?

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange football recruiting has picked up speed for the class of 2019, with seven players now committed (so far).

With that sort of momentum going, there seemed to be some interest in the comments around how big this class will be, and maybe what positions Dino Babers’s staff will be targeting, so figured might as well dive into that today.

To start, there are currently 81 scholarship players on the roster, now that DuWayne Johnson signed last week. The four spots left could be used in a variety of ways, including additional JUCO recruits for 2018, potentially running back Jawhar Jordan (if he gets academics in order), or other walk-ons currently on the roster.

If we assume we stick to players on the roster, there are quite a few “preferred walk-ons” to choose from, as well as senior walk-ons the team has traditionally awarded scholarships when available. These are common across college football, since the spot’s empty anyway, and it’s good to reward a kid who’s been there for years and paying his own way through school. Three players that could fit the bill there this year: Keaton Darney, Kyle Kleinberg and Ben Brickman.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

But for now, we’re looking at who has a scholarship in-hand at the moment, and how that impacts the 2019 class.

Since Syracuse is still a pretty young team, they once again graduate a smaller group than is typical. Assuming no season-long injuries, just 13 players will be leaving the roster. If those four remaining scholarships aren’t filled past 2018, that means there are just 17 spots available for the class of 2019.

If that seems like a small number, well, it is. Typical recruiting classes are between 20 and 25 players, and last year’s 20-man class was already on the small size.

But when you look up and down this roster, it’s easy to see how Dino’s been busy creating a lot of depth with players that fit. The position by position breakdown, sorted by year:

The heavy emphasis on wide receivers, offensive linemen and defensive backs pays off with a slew of young players on the roster. With help from last year’s redshirts, we have SEVEN receivers that are on the roster until 2021. For as much as the last couple years of Syracuse teams have been young, they’ll continue to be going forward — with lingering veterans, obviously. Next year’s roster is (with few exceptions) an entire Babers-recruited squad. If you want the clearest picture of what the Orange can be under Babers with this system, that might just be it.

Positions of need

While it’s still early in the recruiting process for 2019, it is worth projecting out where the other 11 spots could be used as the class takes shape. This isn’t based on any inside information. Rather, it’s just taking a look at where the roster could use a few more players. Babers has gravitated away from classes that lean too heavily on one position or side of the ball, and 2018 seemed to have a decent amount of balance. The same’s likely true going forward, though with emphasis here and there.

Defensive line is the obvious place the Orange could use some help, with seven players graduating next year. Joe Rondi has committed for 2019, but expect two or three more players to help offset next year’s departures.

Offensive line is pretty even year-to-year, but we’ve been getting three to four guys per class, so expect more there once again.

Defensive backs have been a huge focus of late, but until we find the right fit, might as well keep adding to the potential pool. Additions from recent classes have also done a lot more toward replacing departed players versus establishing more depth.

Kicker seems like a silly position to burn a scholarship on, but it’s also critical for this team until they solve their red zone woes. Sterling Hofrichter’s the guy right now, but if he doesn’t reveal himself to be the solution there, SU could either look toward its fleet of walk-on kickers or try to attract a top talent (and why wouldn’t they want to come when you play half of your games indoors?).

As we’ve mentioned, QB could very well not happen for 2019, but we do have two passers on the roster that don’t leave until 2021, which is helpful.

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Thoughts on this? Any other positions we may want to bulk up on? Share your own recruiting opinions below.