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Syracuse football’s QB recruiting approach vs. the rest of the ACC

A look at things since 2017 (Dino Babers’s first full class)

Syracuse v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Among the primary concerns around the Syracuse Orange football program right now is quarterback play, and SU’s ability to upgrade the position.

Since 2017, QB recruiting eggs have largely been in the Tommy DeVito basket. That creates a bit of an issue when he struggles (for various reasons) and there’s no one else to turn to. Dino Babers has secured a bit of an insurance policy for 2021 in Garrett Shrader. But still, in an ideal world, we’re adding a guy we’re confident could start down the road.

For the 2022 class, these concerns could arise once again. Right now, Syracuse has offered just five quarterbacks (per 247) and if the player they’re highest on — the Bronx’s Henry Belin — doesn’t wind up committing, we wind up very behind once again. And forced to basically start the QB recruiting process over, with fewer quality options and less time at our disposal.

After DeVito committed the April before National Signing Day 2017, it’s been rough sledding for SU. Chance Amie was an early signing period flip from Houston. David Summers was late January flip from Maryland. Dillon Markiewicz and JaCobian Morgan were late additions to 2020’s class that also held no other P5 offers.

In 2021, things changed when Babers secured a commitment from Justin Lamson in July. But that’s still three years of last-ditch efforts resulting in a grand total of two players on the current roster (since Amie and Summers have both transferred at this point).

The question we were interested in was how common are these struggles. And more specifically, how much is Syracuse’s approach to QB recruiting contributing to struggles getting top guys in the door?

Rather than looking at the entire country, we narrowed things to the ACC from 2017 (Dino’s first full class) to this current cycle, to try and find some trends and see where Syracuse may need to reevaluate. So first, that data, ordered by total QB offers since 2017:

all data from 247Sports

As you’ll notice above, the totals indicate that Syracuse has actually offered more quarterbacks (83) than most ACC teams over the last six classes. But of course, just looking at these numbers in a vacuum isn’t entirely valuable. It just provides a starting point for the rest.

  • Clemson has so few offers out because after 2017, they were quickly able to pinpoint their target QB and get him without tossing out a ton of offers; on a similar note, getting an early QB commit usually means you’re offering fewer players (see Syracuse only having nine offers out in 2017).
  • The more successful your team and/or QB play is, the more likely it is you’ll be able to secure an earlier commit — and thus have fewer offers out... or so you would think. But there are numerous exceptions. Georgia Tech didn’t need a real QB ‘til recently. Wake has a low number just for some reason. UVA’s been involved in the transfer portal a bunch for passers.
  • The transfer portal also plays a role, as successfully finding QBs in the portal repeatedly means there’s less emphasis on high school prospects (this is less of a situation in the ACC, and more like something Oklahoma and others have done around the country).

Syracuse’s own numbers have specific caveats, too. Since they’re presented in previous years without any notes on timing of offers (that would be far too big of a lift on this end), it may seem like they’re going after a larger-than-average number of QBs. Additionally, it doesn’t account for the quality of those players, either. So offering 10 guys with low three-star ratings isn’t the same as five with four- or five-star ratings getting offers.

As mentioned in the Clemson bullet, we know (or at least sort of remember) that Syracuse has started most of its QB offer lists out slowly, then built out as they missed or faded out of contention on targets. That leads to building out a secondary list of offers that more often than not aren’t the same caliber as the first group. So the high number’s a result of missing often enough, rather than casting a wide net.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Syracuse at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At least in this cycle, you can see which programs are taking similar strategies to Syracuse in the earlier days. Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia and North Carolina are all offering fewer passers, but only the former two have commitments secured so far. Virginia and UNC don’t, but there’s a chance their current QB situations (through the portal or previous years’ recruiting) at least has them feeling better about things.

Syracuse’s situation is clearly different, since they’ve struggled at QB and they still don’t have full confidence in any current guy on the roster. Again, maybe Belin’s the guy and they feel so confident there that it’s not worth going after anyone else. But other teams have more highly-ranked QBs interested and more offers out. So, wouldn’t it make sense to just not repeat past mistakes?

This isn’t saying that the staff is inherently wrong about the way they’re recruiting right now. Just more to point out that the way things have been going, clearly something’s been amiss in recent classes. It just might be worth trying to a different route to getting a highly-rated high school QB to commit.

Hopefully we hear that Belin commits soon and this isn’t an issue. Otherwise, the Orange are probably hitting reset once more, since three of their five current offers are already committed elsewhere.