The Syracuse Orange football program added 19 new players to its ranks during the Early Signing Period for the 2020 recruiting class.
Recruiting may not necessarily be finished — there’s still the regular National Signing Day in February — but as of now, everyone committed to SU except for safety Chase Atkinson (planned to sign in February) has put pen to paper. So, we asked some of the TNIAAM football staff what they think right now — and how we might look at this class in the future:
What offensive recruit has you most excited?
Brandon: Damien Alford. The Quebecker by way of Florida gives Syracuse a BIG target at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds. Recent history has proven that the Orange can always use a big target on the outside for downfield routes and red zone targets, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Alford is a prime candidate to be the number one guy at some point down the road.
Steve: I think on the Podcast, John convinced me on Damien Alford. He’s got the size and athleticism combo to make some noise in this offense as a wideout.
Kevin: Damien Alford. As we saw with Amba Etta-Tawo and Jamal Custis, having a tall receiver on the go routes that this offense likes to use can be an amazing weapon and opens up the middle of the field if defenses have to send safety help over the top.
John: My pick would probably be Alford, but just to change things up, why not one of the recent additions from Germany — Maximilian Mang. Dino Babers has slowly been finding ways to incorporate pass-catching tight ends into his offense at Syracuse, and Mang is a huge target at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds. That’s a potential game-changer at the position, and one that could create some major mismatches.
What defensive recruit has you most excited?
Brandon: Latarie Kinsler is the highest-rated recruit in this class for good reason. He is a bit undersized at just around 205 pounds, but he has nonetheless proven himself by dominating the football hotbed of South Florida. Programs like Penn State, LSU and Oregon were all knocking on his door, but he chose Syracuse and could be a big contributor once he puts on some more pounds.
Steve: Probably Latarie Kinsler. He’s got some big shoes to fill, but he’s got the frame and the look on tape to be able to do it.
Kevin: Stefon Thompson could really give the Orange a dynamic playmaker at the LB spot, an area of need for this team.
John: I think Kinsler has some excellent upside as an edge rusher, and could greatly benefit from the scheme switch once Syracuse hires its new defensive coordinator. If we wind up with a 4-2-5 or 3-4 alignment, that’ll give more opportunities to ‘tweeners like him, making him a more dynamic threat against opposing passers.
What recruit will we miss most when he’s gone?
Brandon: I think Ben LaBrosse has real potential to be a significant 3-4 year contributor for Syracuse. He’ll be entering into a safety room that’s not overly crowded, not to mention as a CEGEP product he’ll be entering more mature than the rest of his peers.
Steve: Always a tough one. Maybe one of the LBs like Thompson or Lowery? It’s a position we’ve had some trouble backfilling, and if they’re talented, it’ll be a loss when they go.
Kevin: I‘ll go with Garth Barclay as he could end up being one of those solid OL players who make a major impact over their career.
John: I think it’s Alford. He comes in with the size to be an impact deep-ball receiver, and it’s not easy to find that sort of talent.
Brandon: I think Maximilian Mang is an extremely fitting and intimidating name for a 6-foot-7, 230 pound German.
Steve: Maximillian Mang, hands down, though an honorable mention to Marlowe Wax.
Kevin: Trebor Pena just sounds like someone you expect to do something amazing on the field.
John: Marlowe Wax just seems to have a name that fits his style of play and size as a runner.
What recruit has the best chance to start (or at least make the most significant contribution) in 2020?
Brandon: Punter James Williams is the shoo-in here. Beyond him, I see Latarie Kinsler as a prime candidate to at least crack the two-deep. He’s a talented prospect coming in at a position of need with both Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson moving on. He’s also a January enrollee and we’ve seen with Andre Cisco that the coaches aren’t afraid to throw out a freshman in the fall if they deliver in spring camp.
Steve: James Williams. The heir apparent to the Hof probably gets the nod on this one.
Kevin: James Williams as the punter seems like the safe choice but after seeing how Luke Benson was used in the passing game I could see Steven Mahar emerge as a red-zone option.
John: Williams is an easy one, but will go with Stefon Thompson instead. Syracuse’s linebackers are a major question mark after last year and Thompson could find his way onto the two-deep as the Orange hit reset there this fall.
What recruit has the toughest road to playing time?
Brandon: Marlowe Wax is a slower power back coming into a stacked position group with Abdul Adams taking lead in 2020 and Jawhar Jordan seemingly primed to take the reigns for the following three seasons. Jarveon Howard’s still there as well and he should serve as a cautionary tale as to how even though a player could be talented, his playing style could limit his use.
Steve: As odd as it sounds with the struggles last year, I would say the offensive line recruits. There’s a strong group returning, though their prospects open up within a year or two. The running backs also have a tough row to hoe, but you can get skill talent on the field in a multitude of ways and rotate more.
Kevin: Marlowe Wax enters a crowded backfield and as a power back would seem to be the one who might not get a lot of run in 2020.
John: I actually think it’s Sean Tucker. Wax has some unique abilities as a bigger, power back and can play both ways, so we could wind up seeing him on special teams. Tucker, while fast, could get buried early on the running back depth chart. Plus his speed doesn’t necessarily put him in front of the current backs — especially Jawhar Jordan. He’ll get there. It’s just going to take a bit.