Defensive end depth is a big issue heading into the 2016 season, and the Syracuse University football program just picked up a huge commitment to help fill that need with 3-star talent Jaquwan Nelson. The Fort Lauderdale native is a Miami decommit who has an impressive offer sheet and the size to play immediately at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds.

Nelson also has offers from Georgia, Illinois, Purdue, Kentucky, Oregon State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, and Akron, and becomes one of the most high profile “gets” of the recruiting class of 2016. Nelson was on his official visit to Syracuse this weekend with nearly a dozen other recruits when he decided to make things official and pledge to the Orange.

Nelson has good length and athleticism, and has the frame to add weight while maintaining his quickness. He could become a potentially dominant edge rusher for defensive coordinator Brian Ward, and joins Kendall Coleman as one of the commits at the position in this year’s class. Each of this year’s defensive end commits could get significant playing time early in their careers, particularly with the indefinite suspensions of Qaadir Sheppard and Amir Ealey still hovering over the program as we head toward spring practice.

With Sheppard and Ealey questionable in terms of immediate availability, the Orange are thin at defensive end, particularly with Ron Thompson going pro early and Luke Arciniega seeing his career ended by medical disqualification. Right now, redshirt freshman Jake Pickard looks to have a stranglehold on one of the starting DE jobs by default, though obviously the highly regarded class of 2015 recruit has plenty of size and talent to make a big impact this year.

Nelson is a terrific pickup for Dino Babers and his staff, which could still add to the defensive line as they round things out for the 2016 cycle.

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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


  1. […] Nelson committed to Syracuse last weekend during his visit to Central New York, but since then, Georgia and head coach Kirby Smart have been going after the talented, 6-foot-4 prospect hard. Ultimately, the allure of the SEC may be too much to pass up for Nelson, meaning that the Orange could drop from three defensive end commitments to two in no time flat. […]

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