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How a global pandemic may affect Syracuse recruiting

There may be challenges for the Orange in the wake of COVID-19.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

So as we know, spring practice for the Syracuse Orange football team (along with just about everything else) was pushed aside mid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the spring practice being cancelled, that also puts the periphery of the program on hold.

As John touched on this week, the installation of both the new offense and defense will need to be handled in a very different way than it normally would. This also puts a big wrench into the recruiting calendar.

At this point in the calendar year, the Orange are primarily in recruiting mode for the 2021 class, and would be gearing up for that part of the “season.”

Currently, this is considered a recruiting “quiet period” and will be until April 15, 2020 at the earliest. During a quiet period, the staff isn’t allowed to partake in person off-campus recruiting efforts. This usually means that you see staffs hold Junior Days or other camps/clinics, as you’ve seen the Orange do in recent weeks, prior to the proliferation of the current situation. It allows athletes to get in front of the staff, have face to face interactions, and hold conversations at a time normally considered quiet.

This definitely cut short some of Syracuse’s plans for bringing prospects onto campus. One of the strengths of having a coach like Dino Babers is his charisma and his ability to get people around him excited to work with him. You get Dino in front of people and they will likely run through a wall for the guy, as noted by watching any interview with the man. The NCAA has suspended all in person recruiting through April 15, 2020, turning what was a “Quiet Period” to a “Dead Period”.

During dead periods, the staff and the student athletes can correspond via email, call, text or DM on social media. As such, without being able to put someone in front of the main man, or even some of the staff, with whom they’re committing, it really changes the dynamic of the task at hand.

There was also the chance of the early visit period being planned out, but that seems to have been pushed out if the timing was as normally scheduled. From April 1, through June 24, players are allowed to take a single official visit, to campuses. Without spring practice, or students in session, even without the restriction, it wouldn’t really help to sell the campus or program, even if it were an option.

As such, it delays what the staff can do, who they can bring in, or how they can interact. Even restrictions on the quiet period in this time mean that coaches can only call a prospect once between April 15 and May 31. Without the additional in person interaction at a camp or clinic, or even to watch a lacrosse game, it severely limits the effectiveness of recruiting pitches and really hamstrings a staff.

We’ll likely see the increase in the amount of social media and other outreach in non-traditional means in order to maintain recruiting relationships with these prospects. There may even be a loophole for video conference junior days, as it might not be considered a one-on-one recruitment.

Overall, coaches — including Babers — will need to get creative to see what and how they can open up the recruitment once this evaluation period opens on April 15, and into the coming months. There will be a distinct change in urgency surrounding any of this recruitment, whether it’s conveyed to the athletes, though that’s up to the recruiter and what they’re doing. Ideally, the Orange can lock up a few prospects, including a quarterback, on the front end of this period and get back in the game rapidly, but only time will tell.