In February 2009, Doug Marrone signed his first recruiting class as head coach of Syracuse. With only a few months to recruit, and very little groundwork done by the previous staff, Marrone was able to pull in 14 recruits. While a few of the names gave Syracuse fans reason to be excited, the size and overall outlook on the class was not impressive. Scout ranked Syracuse's class #102. Rivals, #117, just ahead of football luminaries Air Force, Louisiana-Lafayette, Navy, and UMass.
Marrone's class included a highly productive Maryland wide receiver who had originally committed to Greg Robinson, a few solid offensive line prospects, a New Jersey guard who other Big East coaches thought was a sub-division one prospect, a pair of Virginia Beach teammates who had originally committed to Louisville, a couple of unheralded defensive backs from Florida, a talented but out of shape offensive lineman from Nassau Community College, an undersized defensive end from a military academy in Georgia, and a lightly recruited quarterback from New England.
Needless to say, I can see where most recruitniks could be nonplussed with Syracuse's 2009 haul. This small collection of two-star players was never going to make noise in the vaunted recruiting site rankings that are flaunted by many with such vigor. However, the 2009 Syracuse class has more than made up for a lack of stars with significant on the field production.
One could argue that the 2009 class is a major reason why Syracuse football seems to be on its way back.
Alec Lemon and Justin Pugh, the first two commits of the class who had originally given verbal commitments to Robinson, have become all-conference contributors and both look to play on Sundays. Zach Chibane, Shamarko Thomas, and Brandon Sharpe have been highly productive players and have started for years. For all of his early season blunders, Ri'Shard Anderson has been playing very good football as of late. Andy Phillips has been a valuable depth guy who has played well when called upon. Charley Loeb's time is yet to come.
A few other members of the class, Andrew Tiller, Phillip Thomas, and Torrey Ball, have already left SU, but all were very important players during the last few years. A couple of others, E.J. Carter, Torian Phillips, and Dale Peterman, fell through the cracks, but that is to be expected. Of the eleven players who made it through more than a year at SU, all but Loeb have seen major minutes, and Loeb may be the starting quarterback in 2013. As many as seven of these players should have a chance to play in the NFL in some capacity.
Marrone's more recent classes have had far more impressive numbers and higher star ratings and better depth. However, the 2009 class stepped in and a number of players made an immediate impact, and their contributions, along with those of some talented players from the Robinson years, really stopped the bleeding for Syracuse football.