It’s been awhile since we had any formal updates around Syracuse Orange football recruiting. But with the bye week right now, and the early signing period a little over a month out (starts December 16), it seemed like a decent time to check in on things.
For starters, SU hasn’t added any new players since mid-September, and they haven’t lost anyone either. That list of 21 players currently looks like this, for those that forgot:
- Quarterback (1): Justin Lamson
- Running back (1): Josh Hough
- Wide receiver (3) : Kendall Long, Umari Hatcher, Oronde Gadsden
- Tight end (1): Landon Morris
- O-line (5): Austyn Kauhi, Wes Hoeh, Kalan Ellis, Tyler Magnuson, Enrique Cruz
- D-Line (6): Terry Lockett, Hayden Nelson, Jaelin Moss, Derek McDonald, Jatius Geer, Elijah Fuentes
- Linebacker (2): Austin Roon, Malik Matthew
- Secondary (2): Malcolm Folk, Duce Chestnut
While wins and losses aren’t the end-all, be-all for inbound recruits, they can certainly help lure talent sometimes. But given how Syracuse’s fall has gone, that’s not really the draw. Instead, the slew of freshman playing allows Dino Babers and the Orange staff to sell prospects on the idea of suiting up — and maybe even starting — right away.
If you look up and down the current depth chart, there are plenty of freshman playing a lot of snaps. There are also numerous players leaving the program for one reason or another this offseason. That’s opportunity, if nothing else.
Is that enough to attract anyone else for 2021 heading into December’s early signing period? We’ll get to transfers in a bit. It’s worth looking at high school targets first, though.
SU has offers out to uncommitted players, but it seems unlikely they’re landing any of those top guys, and it’s a waste to tack on scholarships just because. Since it looks like the Orange lose at least two halfbacks this offseason (Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard), it wouldn’t be the worst idea to make another addition on top of the already committed Josh Hough. The current roster does have four scholarship running backs already, though, assuming the rest stick around.
The player that’s been mentioned here and there for months now is Gabe Blair from Denton, Tex. Syracuse has struggled at the center position in recent years and the three-star player would fit the bill. He has offers from the likes of USC, Colorado, Virginia Tech, Tulane and others. If SU is going to add a sixth O-lineman, interior help is probably preferred.
Big Wisconsin (Wauwatosa) offensive tackle Marcus Mbow has mentioned Syracuse recently since decommitting from Arizona State, but he also doesn’t have an offer in hand yet.
SU’s bigger opportunities could be with JUCO or transfer offensive linemen, who could provide the more immediate help needed. On the JUCO front, Mike McAllister recently highlighted Mississippi Gulf Coast tackle Peyton McKinion, who’s 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds. He has offers from a handful of FBS schools (though not the Orange yet), but that’s some impressive size to plug in right away.
For what it’s worth, Orange director of high school relations Ryan Bartow recently followed (among other players) Hutchinson CC offensive tackle Kingsley Ugwu on Twitter. Ugwu has a few AAC/C-USA offers, but more importantly, he does have the right size at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds. No offer yet from SU.
With six players already committed for 2021, you’d think the Orange would be done, yet there are still some possibilities out there. Syracuse recently offered JUCO (Hutchinson CC) defensive tackle Isaiah Iton, who has several Big 12, Big Ten and SEC offers already. Given SU’s inability to stop the run inside this year, adding a JUCO player could potentially provide some immediate help while incoming freshman develop. Syracuse could lose the top four linemen from this year’s team if all decide to forego the extra year of eligibility.
Doesn’t seem like there’s anyone on the radar, but Syracuse could always use more help from JUCOs or transfers given how green this group is right now.
Little has been heard about Syracuse’s attempts to flip Duce Chestnut teammate Alijah Clark from Rutgers, and his social media activity doesn’t really make it seem like that’s going to happen anyway. Cornerback Will Wells (West Palm Beach, Fla.) is potentially the name the Orange are waiting on for this class, but that’s been the case for months now.
McAllister recently noted Jordan Mahoney (Rock Hill, S.C.) is interested in Syracuse, but he currently holds offers from Akron and UMass and is unranked. Obviously diamonds in the rough do happen, and the staff will do their due diligence beyond those raw numbers — especially this year, when scouting opportunities are slim. But he’s another potential name to be aware of if SU is looking to beef up DBs more and wants to take a flier on him.
As mentioned, transfers will be on Syracuse’s radar this offseason to help inject some immediate life into positions that need help. Babers has done this in the past — particularly on the O-line and at wide receiver — but with the Orange staring down a potential one-win season, the pressure’s likely even higher now to convert on those sorts of pick-ups.
Mississippi State transfer quarterback Garrett Shrader would appear to be a top name on the list. The Charlotte native, who was recruited by Syracuse a couple years back, has already shared that the Orange staff is interested. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound dual-threat passer accounted for over 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns last year for the Bulldogs. If SU wanted to have him in the mix for 2021, they’d need a waiver (which one would think would be easier this offseason). It would be a huge help to have a real QB competition next fall.
Another possible add is Maryland offensive tackle transfer Tyran Hunt. In a recent piece, McAllister says that Syracuse has already been in contact with the Virginia native, and his 6-foot-7, 312-pound frame is something sorely needed by this line. He’s a grad transfer, so he’d be able to plug in right away. Given the number of misses on the line in recent classes, adding a JUCO player would seem to be essential here.
With fewer clear lines, you could add some other players to the watch list as well.
- Temple RB Re’Mahn Davis recently announced he’ll be transferring just a year after running for over 900 yards for the Owls. He’s 5-foot-9, but 210 pounds. SU didn’t offer him out of high school, but was interested.
- Akron receiver Jonah Morris has bounced around a bit, but at 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds, he could be a quality add on the outside for SU. Back in 2018, he caught 26 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown.
- TBD if he’d want to come since he’s leaving a similar system at Kent State, but Golden Flashes WR Antwan Dixon’s caught 112 passes for 1,220 yards and four scores.
- Oyenmwen Uzebu was on Syracuse’s radar out of high school, getting an offer, but he ultimately went to WVU. He hasn’t played a ton, but has the size to step right in.
- Not sure how feasible in-conference transfers are at this point, but BC defensive tackle Kyiev Bennermon is from Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and recently announced he’s leaving the Eagles. Last year, he started to show some promise and found his way into opposing backfields. Could be quality pick-up if it’s allowed.
- New Jersey DB Jarrett Paul is transferring from Rutgers, and while we do seem pretty set at the position, needing five players in the secondary at all times puts an extra premium on fresh bodies. He collected 41 tackles and defended a pass last season.
- UConn has a pair of transferring defensive backs who could both be worth a look, in Robert King III and Keyshawn Paul. Both played extensively last year, and would bring great experience to the secondary right away.
Again, the latter transfer targets aren’t based on any hard info. More just guys that are available, and would make sense for one reason or another — be it staff relationships, geography or fit (or some combination of those).