After a flurry of commitments in recent weeks, the Syracuse Orange football team has eight players in the class of 2021 so far. Obviously there are other roster spots to fill, however, so we wanted to provide an update on the names that may be added to Dino Babers’s next recruiting class over the following weeks and months.
First, a quick rundown of who’s already given Syracuse a verbal pledge:
- Running back: Josh Hough
- Wide receiver: Kendall Long
- Tight end: Landon Morris
- D-Line: Terry Lockett, Hayden Nelson, Jaelin Moss, Derek McDonald
- Secondary: Malcolm Folk
Alright, so who are we looking at right now? While things have gotten a bit more complicated due to quarantines and all, SU’s still making in-roads with most of the names below. Going by position:
QB’s become a point of contention in recent years, as Syracuse hasn’t been able to land most of its top choices since Tommy DeVito. But there are two primary options still available to the Orange right now, and one of them has seemingly risen quickly in the eyes of talent evaluators.
East Orange, N.J.’s Tahj Bullock has been on Babers’s radar for awhile, and was an attendee at SU’s Junior Day earlier this year. He’s a dual-threat and a three-star. Plus he has offers from Boston College, Rutgers, Duke and UCLA, among others.
The other QB is a more recent addition: Riley Leonard (from Fairhope, Ala.) is a pro-style passer and has become the priority for SU in recent weeks — he spoke to Syracuse.com’s Stephen Bailey and it seems the Orange have told him he’s their No. 1 option. Though he’s currently unrated, he holds offers from Duke, Vanderbilt and Nebraska. At least one of those squads already has a QB in this class, though. Leonard seems to be waiting a little longer to make a decision. If we can land him, it would certainly be nice to have this class’s QB set on the earlier side (would be a first since DeVito in 2017).
Syracuse seems to have the inside track on Hampton, Va. running back Anthony Turner. While 247Sports only sees him as a 2-star prospect, he’s a three-star in the composite rankings and has other P5 offers from Virginia, Kansas and Missouri. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he fits the mold we’ve seen from many recent Orange ball-carriers.
Notably, SU made the top eight for Colby McDonald from Washington D.C., and he happens to be announcing his decision on Friday (he also attended Junior Day). However, Maryland and Louisville seem to be the top suitors, at least according to prognosticators. Johnny Martin, from Blackwood, N.J. is an option as well and was a Junior Day attendee. But it doesn’t seem like he has any decision coming up in the near-term.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
‘Cuse already has two pass-catchers in the fold for this cycle, but could still add at least one more. Three-star Florida (Fort Lauderdale) wideout Patrick Bryant included Syracuse among his top six, along with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. That doesn’t sound overly promising, but who knows? Doesn’t seem like a decision is coming there just yet.
SU could also potential wind up with another tight end if they wind up seeing Landon Morris as more of a receiver. Crystal Lake, Ill. product Carter Evans is a big dude at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but Syracuse is his only P5 offer right now. Curtis Nixon (from Washington D.C.) attended the Orange’s Junior Day, but doesn’t appear to hold an offer from the Orange yet. Maryland, Rutgers and BC have all offered already, however.
We could always use more help on the line, and there are a couple top targets still in play for Syracuse. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Kareem Harden is already 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, so would come in at the size Dino’s probably looking for in a tackle. Harden has named his top six schools already, and SU made the cut along with fellow P5 schools Pitt and Kansas.
Another option at tackle is Austyn Kauhi, from Honolulu. Syracuse is his lone P5 offer at the moment, but he’s had plenty of Mountain West involvement (and a Navy offer), and stands at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds. Certainly Babers’s time at Hawaii could be advantageous toward making the sell here.
You probably noticed that SU’s already gone pretty heavy on defensive linemen in this class, with four on board (though at least one could potentially move to outside linebacker). Still, there are additional targets out there up front — including a familiar name that should have some fans excited.
George Rooks — son of the former Orange standout — is a four-star defensive tackle who sits just outside the top 200 in the 247 composite rankings right now. The Jersey City, N.J. product has plenty of big offers from the likes of Michigan, Penn State, Miami and more. It’s Syracuse, though, that appears to be in the driver’s seat, according to Rivals.
Syracuse has also made the top eight for Ikenna Ugbaja (from Hyde Park, Mass.) and the top five for Zaire Angoy (from Newark, N.J.). Both are three-star defensive tackles, but it’s tough to say how many players the Orange would add inside for this class with Lockett already committed and Rooks’s spot likely held if he wants it. Based on what’s occurred in recent seasons, I wouldn’t complain about more interior line help, though.
Junior Day attendees Elijah Fuentes (Bronx, N.Y.) and Josaiah Stewart (Everett, Mass.) are also out there and could be options for Syracuse. Stewart, in particular, is a 4-star according to 247Sports and could conceivably play linebacker since he’s at 235 pounds right now. He has offers from Michigan and BC, while Fuentes has offers from the Eagles, Rutgers and Duke (among others).
Mentioned above that some players could move from the line to linebacker if need be. But Syracuse is also still pursuing a couple players already at the position. Sebastian Sagar is at Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, and has mentioned that the Orange are in “the top group” for him along with BC, Miami and West Virginia. He clearly has a thing for former Big East teams, which we’re fine with. Sagar’s 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, which definitely fits the mold of what Tony White’s likely doing with this 3-3-5 scheme.
Millford, Pa.’s Jason Henderson is another linebacker option who seems pretty high on Syracuse — and we’re currently his only P5 offer. He’s unrated, but that’s going to be more common than you think given the state of things and how it prevents in-person scouting and evaluation. His top offers aside from SU are Army and Temple.
Clearly incoming safeties seem to like what they’re seeing from Andre Cisco, and are perhaps envisioning honing their own ball-hawking skills at SU...
Syracuse has made the top six for two different safeties: Desmond Igbinosun (Union, N.J.) and Josh Moore (Atlanta), and it would appear the Orange have a good chance at least one of them. Igbinosun was a Junior Day attendee and has offers from Rutgers, BC, Pitt, Purdue and Temple (who all made the top six along with ‘Cuse). At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he’s potentially a big hitter in the secondary should he come aboard. Moore’s a strong prospect with offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, BC and Northwestern... and I think the odds are less in our favor there. Would obviously be a great add as a higher three-star talent.
Also on the Georgia front, Cam’Ron Dabney (Gainesville, Ga.) is a possible add at corner. He holds offers from Arizona State, Army, Kansas and Navy (among others) and he was offered by Tony White while he was still coaching at ASU. He’s listed as an athlete, but plays corner right now.
Not a bad list above, and there’s even a blue-chipper or two in there to calm your nerves a bit. Have any questions or gripes? Or perhaps other players you’d rather focus on? Feel free to share below.