March was pretty busy with the NCAA Tournament on both the men’s and women’s side, so we opted not to go out with one of these Syracuse Orange football recruiting updates with your attention elsewhere. But with that out of the way, this seemed like a pretty good time to check in on things.
Over the last month, Syracuse added three more players to the class of 2022 — LeQuint Allen, Malachi Davis and Belizaire Bassette — to bring the total for this class up to four now. A breakdown of those players and positions:
- RB: LeQuint Allen
- DL: Malachi Davis, Belizaire Bassette
- DB: Cornell Perry
Despite a fast start, though, the work is far from done for Dino Babers and his staff as they keep striving to upgrade the talent level on this roster. Below is a position-by-position breakdown of where things currently stand.
Like many of you, I still have some doubts around Syracuse’s approach to quarterback recruiting, which involves tossing out just a handful of offers initially and then expanding the list if those don’t work out. Still, there are currently five guys offered:
- Peter Delaportas, 4 stars (Sparta, N.J.) - Boston College commit
- Tevin Carter, 3 stars (Memphis, Tenn.)
- Henry Belin, 3 stars (Bronx, N.Y.)
- Steve Angeli, 3 stars (Oradell, N.J.) - Notre Dame commit
- Beau Pribula, 3 stars (York, Pa.) - Penn State commit
As you can see, three of those guys have already committed elsewhere. Belin has the been the primary target the whole time, and if the New York prospect commits, then there’s no harm no foul regarding the strategy. It’s behind a paywall, but Stephen Bailey had a good piece on Belin’s recruitment recently and it at least seems mildly encouraging for SU.
With Allen already in the door, Syracuse now potentially needs just one more running back in this class to get the depth chart back up to snuff. The Orange currently have 13 running backs offered, and only two of them (including Allen) have committed so far. Right now, the most likely addition is Staten Island’s Sam Martin Jr. The three-star player is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, so would definitely be more of a speed back. He included Syracuse in his top seven at the beginning of March, and SU offered him a while back.
Beyond quarterback, the other major area of concern in this class could be wideout just based on recent trends. Of the 28 receivers offered already, 11 are already committed — including eight of the top 10. For a team that’s added a bunch of pass-catchers in recent years but hasn’t really found the breakout guy they need on the outside, it’s far from ideal. That said, they have been offering a lot of four-star guys, so striking out can also be the cost of doing business when going after better prospects.
Syracuse isn’t necessarily trending with any of these wide receivers right now, so we’re in wait-and-see mode for the time being. Most of the recent offers have gone out to three-star players or unrated (for the time being) guys. Adding to the recruiting ranking shuffling is the fact that many schools are holding spring seasons, so evaluations on juniors are a bit behind compared to most years.
SU only has two tight end offers out right now, and they don’t necessarily “need” to push there given how this offense has been using the position. With five tight ends currently on the roster, they could easily skip in favor of other spots of need.
The one place where former Syracuse OC Mike Cavanugh seemed to find some success was on the recruiting trail, so replacement Mike Schmidt will have his work cut out for him while building his first class with the Orange.
Of the targets currently out there, SU only has real public progress with a handful of players. Tackle Matthew Fries (3 stars, Cranford, N.J.) liked his visit a week or so back, according to an interview with Mike McAllister. Laakea Kapoi (3 stars, Honolulu) has been in contact for some time as well. Kapoi attended the St. Louis School with 2021 signee Kalan Ellis, so that may be somewhat of an assist as the Orange recruit him amid a coaching change and an influx of bigger programs offering Kapoi of late.
Though Syracuse could use help everywhere on the line, the interior’s definitely a major concern. So far, there are only four offers out to guards and two to centers, without many indications they’re among the contenders for any just yet. A potential saving grace here is that the Orange have typically closed out recruiting classes well and added more O-linemen toward the end of the cycle. So perhaps that bodes well again even with the coaching change.
‘Cuse lost plenty of defensive linemen this offseason, but also added five in the recruiting class of 2021 and the switch to the 3-3-5 also means there are fewer opportunities available on the depth chart. With two commits on the line already, the Orange may only need one (or two, at most) more player to fill out the class.
That last addition or two could come from any number of places. Denis Jacquez (3 stars, Richland, N.J.) has previously indicated Syracuse is involved, and the Orange at least appear to be on his short list. SU had a virtual visit with Samuel Okunlola (3 stars, Brockton, Mass.) in early March, though there’s a bunch of Power Five competition there.
The name that we haven’t heard much about lately is Jimmy Scott, a three-star defensive end from Hamburg, N.Y. Scott was one of many Tennessee commits to bail on the Vols after the offseason coaching change, and while SU was in play initially, it’s hard to tell where things stand now. He’s ranked a little outside the top 500 on 247Sports, so he’d be one of the better additions in the class, in all likelihood (should it happen, of course).
Despite the emergence of a bunch of young linebackers last year, we could always use more given the amount of snaps so many of those guys played. And lucky for Syracuse, they seem to be trending in the right direction on several current targets.
Inside linebacker Mekhi Mason (3 stars, Opa Locka, Fla.) included the Orange among his top seven schools this week, and will be visiting SU. While there are some differences from list to list, SU does seem like they’re up against a lot of the same schools for most target prospects. In this case, it’s Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
In February, the Orange made the top eight for inside linebacker Edwin Kolenge (3 stars, Montreal, QC) along with Boston College, Howard, Indiana, Nebraska, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. While he is Canadian, he’s currently at Clearwater Academy in Florida. Syracuse’s large Canadian contingent could help here.
Outside linebacker Mani Powell (3 stars, Canton, Ohio) also has Syracuse among his top schools, and Arkansas appears to be the big competition there, as the only other P5 offer — though he also has offers from various MAC schools.
Syracuse already has one defensive back on board in Perry, but this class really needs to help the position group reload following NFL Draft departures; though having Andre Cisco, Ifeatu Melifonwu and Trill Williams all selected could also help further the Orange’s sales pitch. Right now, there are just 11 scholarship DBs on the roster... not ideal when only one player’s set to graduate before 2023 and you have five players on the field at once in the 3-3-5.
Here, perhaps more than any other position group, you’ve really seen the talent of players offered increase. But of course, we have to land some of those guys.
Among the top names we’re currently targeting: Trevell Mullen (4 stars, Pompano Beach, Fla.), who put Syracuse in his top five back in December along with Indiana, Miami, Penn State and West Virginia. Mullen’s the younger brother of Raiders (and former Clemson) corner Trayvon, and his brother Tiawan already plays corner at IU.
Elijah Mc-Cantos (3 stars, Miami) has had an SU offer for some time, but it does seem like other schools have started angling the Orange out a bit. That’ll happen when LSU’s involved. He also has offers from Illinois, Arizona State, Kansas, Penn State and others.
Jacolby Spells (4 stars, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) is an “athlete” who’s projected to be a defensive back and listed Syracuse in his top five a month ago along with Georgia, Indiana, Miami and West Virginia. SU also offered him awhile back, may help.
There are plenty of other offers out there too for DBs — at least 40 between safeties and cornerbacks — so we’re clearly pushing to build out the depth chart after only adding three players (two high school recruits and one transfer) in the secondary this offseason.
Plenty more time left to construct this class. Have any positive or negative thoughts on the group so far? Share your own thoughts below.