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Syracuse football recruiting: A very early look at the Class of 2021

At present, it’s a pretty wide net that will get narrowed down in time.

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Yes, it’s still a long time until the start of the next Syracuse Orange football season. Yes, it’s even longer until we see commits for the Class of 2021 signing national letters of intent. However, since the Class of 2020 has finished putting pen to paper, it’s not too early to take a look at who we may be bringing in for the next recruiting class.

Syracuse has almost 200 offers out already, to anyone from five-star recruits, to a good number of currently unranked recruits. We’re early in the cycle, and this will all shake out and these players will continue to be rated as the process moves forward. Per 247sports.com, there are 11 teams in-conference that already have at least one commit on for the class. The Orange are currently not one of those teams.

In 2020, the recruiting class Dino Babers brought in was ranked 59th in the country and was good enough to move the Orange into 10th best in the ACC. He hopes to follow that up with another solid class to augment and maybe move up the rankings a little among their peer programs in the ACC. Realistically, Syracuse won’t be consistently beating the Clemsons and Florida States of the world for recruits. But being able to stay consistently above or at least neck and neck with programs in the same lane — the Boston College, Pitt, NC State, Wake crowd — is a good goal.

Which quarterbacks are still on the board?

To keep the offense ticking, one of the main questions will be who Coach Babers & Co. will be targeting at the quarterback position, with Tommy DeVito being a redshirt junior in 2020. At present, there are only five offers out to quarterbacks rated four stars or higher:

  • Kyle McCord (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Aaron McLaughlin (Alpharetta, Ga.)
  • Shedeur Sanders (Cedar Hills, Tex.)
  • Christian Veilleux (Orleans, Ont.)
  • Athan Kaliakmanis (Antioch, Ill.)

Up front, would point out that McCord’s an Ohio State pledge and Kaliakmanis committed to Minnesota nearly a year ago. Unlike most positions, quarterbacks usually make their decisions early and stick with them, so if Syracuse doesn’t have a blue-chip passer by the summer, it’s a lot less likely they’re getting one at all.

Vellieux is likely still the main target here, and was a priority 2020 target before the Ottawa native reclassified to the class of 2021 in order to attend prep school at The Bullis School in Maryland. Tahj Bullock (Jersey City, N.J.), a three-star recruit, was also at the Junior Day that the Orange hosted last month.

Is there help coming to backfill the defensive line?

Possibly the top recruit to keep tabs on at this point will be TJ Guy, a three-star defensive end out of Massachusetts, who was a former Boston College commit. With the changes over in Chestnut Hill, Guy has reopened his recruitment and attended Junior Day as well.

Syracuse also seems to have eyes on Brooklyn defensive end Jahzion Harris, a four-star out of Erasmus Hall High School — though he’s also being pursued by LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan and others. The Orange also hosted tackles Terry Lockett (Springfield, Mass.) and Elijah Fuentes (Bronx, N.Y.) on Junior Day.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

What level of talent is coming out of New York State?

The aforementioned Harris and Fuentes are two of the top 10 kids coming out of the state. Fuentes is from Cardinal Hayes, the same high school as current offensive tackle Qadir White. Harris is the only currently rated four-star talent that could be kept “local” for the class. The rest of the New York recruits are a mix of three-stars, including Syracuse offers in LB Sebastian Sagar (Brooklyn) and OG Armon Bethea, who plays for Erasmus Hall with both Sagar and Jahzion Harris.

There are still a good number of recruits who are unrated in the class, including a few ultra-local guys. The Orange have an offer out to Antonio Corsi, a tight end from Attica, N.Y. Other local recruits who currently don’t have offers from the Orange, but show up on the radar, include Travis Ward from Syracuse CBA — a tall, pro-style passer — Ulysees Russell, (WR from Rochester Aquinas) and Rushawn Baker, a running back from Victor.

Any other elite players in the mix?

SU has offers out to 26 different kids in the top 100 of the 247Sports composite rankings, which seems like a reasonable number given attainability and all. Of course, they have their work cut out for them selling those players on going to Syracuse over the likes of schools like Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, LSU, Oklahoma etc. Still, worth trying.

Those offers don’t show a shift in recruiting strategy in this cycle, beyond maybe a greater look in the state of Texas — where players are tailor-made for the offensive scheme SU runs. Babers has offers out to nearly every top 100 player in the Northeast region, as one would expect. Florida’s a major focus as always, especially when it comes to receivers and defensive backs.

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If nothing else, this should give a baseline look into where the Orange are focusing their efforts for the next recruiting cycle. This may be pretty fluid as well, with the new staff being put in place, and we’ll likely see more on new offers or targets in the near future. All of the new staff members (Sterlin Gilbert, Tony White, Chip West) will be coming in with guys they’ve targeted prior and guys that fit their systems. So if we’re lucky, perhaps a lot of groundwork is already done there and we can start hearing some updates about the next group of Orange players in the door.