With a number of spots still open in the Syracuse football class of 2017, along with some already announced transfers (which, by the way, probably won’t be the last), it’s no surprise that the Orange are looking to the junior college ranks to shore up the roster. This week, we can expect to see some serious movement on that front.

That’s because Wednesday marks the first day of the junior college signing period, which runs from December 14 to January 15 for midyear transfers. Keep in mind this does not include players who will be spring graduates – so basically, don’t expect to hear anything about Marquise Blair this week, or any time over the next month, really.

But there are some names to keep an eye on. The biggest one, in terms of how much time and effort has been put into his recruitment, is Ravian Pierce. The dynamic pass catching tight end visited Syracuse last month, and the former Mississippi State commit is expected to make his decision sooner than later.

The 6-foot-4 Pierce is a big-time talent, who would immediately give the Orange the type of pass catching threat at tight end that the team lacked this season. He’s a terrific athlete with great size and could be a matchup nightmare in the Dino Babers offense. Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, and LSU are all in the mix, though Syracuse is considered one of the favorites.

Another name to keep an eye on is linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (pictured above), an Arizona commit who picked up an Orange offer last week and quickly took an official visit to Syracuse this past weekend. The Garden City CC inside linebacker has some connections to the Orange coaching staff, as he was originally a product of Cass Tech in Detroit and committed to Western Michigan and Vince Reynolds out of high school.

Phillips would be a big-time pickup for Syracuse, and provide an immediate upgrade to the linebacking corps, which right now is light on experience beyond the starters. Having former Cass Tech linebacker Tim Walton already on the roster, and defensive end Zach Morton in the class of 2017 could wind up giving the Orange an edge, particularly with the strong relationship Phillips already has with Reynolds, as well.

Another linebacker from the junior college ranks to recently take a visit was Ryan Guthrie, a Tulane commitment originally from Georgia. Guthrie was on campus this past weekend, coming off of a season in which he ranked sixth in the NJCAA in tackles-per-game, averaging 11.6 and adding 7.5 sacks on the year. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound outside linebacker also led all of NJCAA with 107 solo stops.

Some other names to keep an eye on are 6-foot-4, 230 pound defensive end Brandon Berry, who is set to take an official visit to Syracuse on January 27, as well as former Notre Dame defensive back Mykelti Williams, and defensive tackle JJ Holmes. Other names will certainly emerge, and don’t be surprised to see the Orange also look to the trenches for one or two offensive linemen.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including,,,, and, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish