Well, the Syracuse University football staff missed out on one of the top remaining targets for the 2016 recruiting cycle when safety Eric Burrell pledged to Wisconsin on Monday. The safety from Maryland had seemed to be getting higher and higher on the Badgers over the last couple of months, and after taking an official visit to Madison over the weekend it’s not a huge surprise that he chose to make things official. That does beg the question, though: where does Syracuse look next for another defensive back or two?
There are a couple of easy answers, including, ironically, a former Wisconsin commit: Cycoby Burch. The 6-foot-2, 190 pound Burch is a 3-star talent from Orlando, and is looking to take an official visit to Syracuse in about a month as the Orange host Clemson. He’ll be joined by a pair of very talented teammates who each also have an offer: athlete Tyrek Tisdale, and linebacker Jonathan Jones.
Burch is also high on South Florida and West Virginia, along with Indiana. At this point, it looks like it will be tough to beat West Virginia but obviously things can change. For instance, Burch was originally set to announce at the end of August, but decided to hold off until after taking all of his official visits. He would be a big-time get for the Orange, who also have defensive backs Scoop Bradshaw and Monquavion Brinson committed in the class of 2016.
Another name to keep an eye on is Tony Butler. Butler is a 6-foot-2, 195 pound defensive back from Ohio who is a former teammate of current true freshman linebacker Troy Henderson, and is rated by Scout as the top safety prospect in his home state. Butler was previously committed to Pittsburgh but, like Burch, chose to decommit from his initial choice and is back on the market. He’s reportedly high on the Orange, and the Orange are high on him. The 3-star talent is currently targeting a December date for an official visit to CNY.
One more name to keep in mind is an old name, and while he’s not at the top of the list for the coaches, he’s certainly someone who could re-enter the picture given his familiarity with the staff and previous love of the school: Devon Clarke. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound Florida native tried to commit to Syracuse over the summer but was turned down at that particular time for a variety of reasons, including his lack of taking a visit to campus along with, quite frankly, the staff being a little higher on a few other recruits at the same position.
However, things have certainly changed, as Burrell is off the board and Clarke has been having a strong season for Osceola, and he could absolutely add much needed size to the Syracuse secondary. The 3-star talent is, like Burch and Butler, another decommit from another Power 5 school, having previously been pledged to Oregon State. He’s also previously mentioned wanting to take an official visit to SU, despite having had his attempt to verbal turned down.
The secondary is clearly a major concern for Syracuse moving forward, and while losing Burrell is tough to stomach, the Orange definitely still have some strong options. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with so few scholarships open.