Hey there, gang. You’re looking well. I mean… some of you. Others, well… not so much. But looks aren’t everything. What is everything is the status of Syracuse football’s quarterback recruiting in the wake of Tyler Van Dyke choosing Miami over the Orange.
The big question looming for Syracuse fans: when is it OK to start getting concerned about the lack of big-time QB recruits flocking to Dino’s system?
And I get the frustration. I really do. Dino Babers has a reputation as a QB whisperer. He’s a guy who gets his quarterbacks to put up video game numbers no matter where his career as a head coach takes him. So naturally, Orange fans have been wondering when that will result in an influx in elite quarterback recruits.
Obviously, Dino was able to identify and land Tommy DeVito early on — well before essentially anyone else knew much about Tommy at all. Remember, Tommy was generally considered a 2-star prospect when he was first offered, and vaulted up to a 4-star, Elite 11 player by the end of his recruitment. Dino’s eye for talent is, obviously, very strong.
And it’s not like the Orange haven’t been putting up big passing numbers, either, even with a dual threat quarterback like Eric Dungey at the helm of the offense. Now, Dungey never put up the giant numbers many of us expected, but that’s also in large part due to the fact that he never managed to complete a full season thanks to injuries brought about primarily by his exciting but reckless style whenever he took off and ran.
Let’s take a look at the classes since DeVito, though. The season after Dino landed DeVito, the clear top prospect on the board for the Orange was New Jersey gunslinger Devin Leary, who would ultimately choose NC State and will compete to replace Ryan Finley this coming season. Syracuse’s second choice that cycle, Chance Amie, initially chose Houston before flipping to the Orange late. Amie, of course, has since transferred out of the program.
Last year, the Orange missed on a number of quarterback targets before pulling a rabbit out of a hat and flipping 3-star recruit David Summers, who had been pledged to Maryland before changes at the top of that program. And now, Syracuse finds itself blindsided by the sudden commitment of Van Dyke to Miami. This is a big blow to the Orange, as Van Dyke had firmly established himself as Syracuse’s top target at the QB position in the 2020 class.
That doesn’t mean he’s the only option, mind you. Various other targets remain on the board, though it remains to be seen who will rise to the top now that Van Dyke is seemingly no longer an option. That said — if Amie has taught us anything, it’s that it ain’t over until it’s over. Also, apparently some guy named Yogi said that, too. This is especially true given the Orange are still heavily recruiting a couple of Van Dyke’s teammates, including Justin Barron, who the 247 Crystal Ball heavily favors as a Syracuse lean (for now, at least — we saw how quickly that changed for Van Dyke).
Still, the question remains: when is it time to start worrying about Syracuse’s ability to attract top level QB recruits? It certainly seems a little strange that the Orange have yet to land a first-choice target other than DeVito, but it’s more a testament to how much work the staff has to do to eliminate the way the program has been viewed — or not viewed — over the better part of two decades. Obviously, a 10-win season and a top 15 ranking was a tremendous start for Dino and his staff, but a single year isn’t going to erase being (if we’re being honest) a bit of a laughingstock on the college football scene nationally. Recruits these days aren’t old enough to have any idea about the glory days of Syracuse football, even as recently as the ’90s. Hell — this year’s recruiting class wasn’t even born when Donovan McNabb was under center.
And we really think that can all be fixed with what some view as a fluke season? Obviously, we as Syracuse fans don’t view it as a fluke. We look at the returning and incoming talent, and we see what is (on paper) an easier schedule this coming season, and we, as Orange faithful, think we can find our way to double digit victories for the second year in a row. That, in and of itself, would be a tremendous feat. Syracuse football hasn’t had back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1991 and 1992. Hell, I was still a preteen when that happened. I’ll be 39 this fall. My point, of course: this is potentially rarified air we could be reaching, as it relates to the history of Syracuse football.
And with that sustained success comes the better recruits. We’ve already started to see an uptick in recruiting success under Dino Babers and his staff, but until we prove it is, in fact, sustainable, we’re still not very likely to reel in many top level recruits — even at the quarterback position. The best thing we can do, at this point, is watch how Dino and the coaching staff bounce back from losing their top guy, and trust in the steps this program is taking toward becoming a contender. Win another nine or 10 games this season, and we should start seeing more high level options.
If we win another 10 games and still miss on big-time QBs in 2021? Well, shit. We might just be fucked, in that case.