One area that Syracuse hasn’t spent a lot of time on during the 2017 recruiting cycle so far is defensive line. The Orange already have a commitment from Zach Morton and are hotly pursuing potential two-sport star Jordan Wright, but both are defensive ends. Right now, the primary focus at defensive tackle is squarely on one name: Curtis Harper.
The McKeesport, Pennsylvania prospect is a big, powerful run stopper who also has the burst to get into the backfield and disrupt an opponent’s passing attack. At 6-foot-3 and about 290 pounds, he’s already got Division 1 size, and while it’s important to remember his highlights are against high school competition, he often looks like a man among boys with the way he sheds blockers and motors his way into the backfield.
Right now, Syracuse is in a good spot with Harper but has plenty of competition for his services. Maryland, Boston College, Iowa State, Temple, and UConn are among his top offers, and just today he teased releasing a top five in the near future. As it stands, the Orange should likely feel pretty comfortable with making that list of schools. Maryland could potentially be the biggest competition, as Harper has visited the Terps multiple times in the past couple of months.
The Orange could certainly use some added depth at defensive tackle, because while there’s some good, young talent at the position with players like Kayton Samuels, Chris Slayton, and Steven Clark, there’s a definite need to bolster the middle of the line moving forward. Syracuse took just one player to play DT last cycle in McKinley Williams, though with his size and athleticism at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds (currently), there’s no guarantee he won’t swing out to defensive end somewhere down the line.
In terms of being a big, powerful interior defensive lineman with the ability to plug the middle and stuff the run, it’s pretty clear why Syracuse covets Curtis Harper.