Well, Syracuse’s recruiting class of 2016 just took a bit – at least for the time being. Runningback signee Jo-El Shaw, a big, bruising player from Pittsburgh powerhouse Woodland Hills, appears to be headed to Lackawanna College, a junior college in Scranton.
— Lackawanna Football (@LCFalconsFB) June 28, 2016
Shaw is a 6-foot-1, 225 pound back whose sudden absence from the 2016 Syracuse roster could wind up throwing a bit of a wrench into things moving forward. As currently constructed, the Orange don’t really have a true short yardage back – a role Shaw was presumably going to fill sooner than later. The biggest back on the roster at the moment is probably Jordan Fredericks, and he’s obviously not a traditional “short yardage” tailback by any stretch.
Shaw rushed for more than 1,300 yards last season while sharing carries with the nation’s top rated runningback, Miles Sanders. Both players recently had big performances in the Big 33 Classic, an all-star game between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Shaw rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown in Pennsylvania’s victory.
So what does this mean going forward? Well, as I mentioned above, the Orange are going to need to brainstorm the short yardage situation. Could someone like Tyler Provo finally get his chance (remember, he was one of the top-rated fullbacks in the country coming out of high school, but was recruited almost exclusively as a tight end)?
Looking toward the 2017 class, it puts even more importance on Syracuse landing Tayon Fleet-Davis, a similar player to Shaw in terms of size and power. The Orange don’t really have anyone else quite like Shaw, so picking up Fleet-Davis is now just about essential, given the uncertainty surrounding Shaw. After all, while he certainly appears to be Orange through-and-through, it’s not dissimilar to what happened with Marquise Blair, the talented safety from Ohio who went to junior college in Kansas and whose future is now up in the air.
Shaw could very well wind up at Syracuse when he qualifies, but the Orange also need to prepare for a scenario in which they, unfortunately, are forced to move on without him. It’s a tough break both for Shaw and for Syracuse, but one that’ll hopefully wind up being simply a bump in the road on Shaw’s journey to the Orange.