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Syracuse football: what comes next for the 2023 roster

Two prospects flipped leaves a disappointing taste

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for the Syracuse Orange football program. The positive vibes from a 7-5 season are being blown away by a cold-front of tough news blowing in from the South.

After losing Tony White and Robert Anae, Syracuse saw their top two high school commits flip this week. This is obviously not the results people wanted after the on-field success. Syracuse’s high-school recruiting class is at the bottom of the ACC. Did the Orange land more untapped potential like they did with Matthew Bergeron? Will some of these players out-perform their offer lists like Garrett Williams? Time will tell and that is on the coaching staff to have identified fits and use their talents.

What I find interesting about comments about rankings is that for years (including leading up to this season), people have pointed out how Jim Boeheim recruits for his system and we shouldn’t worry about the rankings of those recruits. This isn’t to say Dino Babers gets afforded the trust that Boeheim has built up, but to point out the inconsistent arguments here and across Syracuse’s online fandom.

The rankings also ignore the transfers who are part of this class. Steve did the work and so let’s look at the Top 25 Syracuse recruits of the 247 era and I left LaNorris Sellers in there so you can see where he would have placed.

Top 25 Syracuse FB recruits (247 era)

Recruit Grade Class Position Composite Notes Coach
Recruit Grade Class Position Composite Notes Coach
Cecil Howard 0.9920 2001 QB 5 Transferred Pasqualoni
Johnnie Morant 0.9871 2000 WR 5 Pasqualoni
Diamond Ferri 0.9659 2000 RB 4 Pasqualoni
Andrey Baskin 0.9358 2006 WR 4 DNQ Robinson
Carlos Del-Rio Wilson 0.9357 2022T QB 4 Babers
Braylen Ingraham 0.9321 2023T DL 4 Babers
Garrett Shrader 0.9106 2021T QB 4 Babers
Averin Collier 0.9101 2008 LB 4 Robinson
Jaeden Gould 0.9084 2023T CB 4 Babers
Wayne Morgan 0.9021 2012 CB 4 Marrone
Marquis Spruill 0.9000 2010 LB 4 Marrone
Larry McClain 0.9000 2003 CB 4 Transferred Pasqualoni
Lavar Lobdell 0.9000 2005 WR 4 Robinson
Adam Rosner 0.9000 2006 OT 4 Robinson
KJ Williams 0.8967 2014 ATH 4 DNQ Shafer
Marcus Sales 0.8963 2008 WR 4 Robinson
Ron Thompson 0.8950 2012 TE 4 Marrone
LaNorris Sellers 0.8926 2023 QB 3 Flipped to S. Carolina Babers
Trill Williams 0.8924 2018 CB 4 Babers
Tommy DeVito 0.8915 2017 QB 4 Transferred Babers
Qadir White 0.8874 2018 OT 3 Transferred Babers
Jayden Bellamy 0.8870 2023T CB 3 Babers
Lee Kpogba 0.8860 2019 LB 3 Transferred Babers
Mikel Jones 0.8858 2019 LB 3 Babers
Duce Chestnut 0.8850 2021 CB 3 Transferred Babers
Steve Haller/Kevin Wall

If we’re going to talk about recruiting, we should note that the staff has found five transfers who make this list, including the three from this season. We’ll also point out that these rankings don’t guarantee success on the field, which is my overall point. Let’s see what happens with this group in the upcoming seasons.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

We also need to see what happens with the transfer portal. This window of the transfer portal closes on January 18th. There is also a 15-day spring period from May 1-15. Players will be leaving Syracuse and other schools and for a program that needs to grab athletes ready to contribute in 2023, these are the players who matter most to the immediate on-field success all of us want to see continue.

No matter Syracuse will need some playmakers on both sides of the ball next Fall. Are those players currently on the roster? Will others enter the portal after the bowl game? Can they get Ja’Had Carter or Duce Chestnut back in the fold? Should they hold back a couple of scholarships for May portal entrants?

It’s clear the staff wanted offensive lineman and corners who were ready to see the field. Did this class fill those needs? Will the young defensive ends and wide receivers be ready to emerge by Fall?

The Sellers flip stings but Syracuse still has Shrader, Del-Rio Wilson and last spring’s standout Justin Lamson in the QB room. Losing the top recruit in the class isn’t a good thing, but in the time it would take for a high school quarterback to emerge at the top of the depth chart there will be other transfer targets.

I know this won’t change anyone’s mind (because we saw what 7 wins did for all those in the new HC camp) but it’s about taking a step off the ledge and pointing out that the rankings are not a complete picture. Yes, the national champion will have a lot of 5-stars but they’ll also have a lot of 4-stars hitting the portal as well.