The NCAA recruiting “dead period” is coming to a close this week, and the Syracuse University football staff is wasting little time getting to work in shoring up the 2016 class. This weekend could yield some good results, and I’m expecting multiple commits coming out of the official visits that are currently planned.
Among the names visiting this weekend are Drew Beesley, Andrew Armstrong, Devon Clarke, DeVaughn Cooper, Sean Riley, and Cedric Byrd. To be completely honest, I expect three commitments, and maybe more, depending on how many Dino Babers and his staff are ready to take on the first of three big, upcoming recruiting weekends as we motor toward National Signing Day on February 3.
I talked about Clarke, Cooper, and Riley last week, and the latter two have received offers from the Syracuse coaching staff. Clarke is taking his official visit this weekend, and his excitement level is already high and will presumably be off the charts as Friday draws closer.
Pumped for this visit to the orange 🍊🍊🍊
— Von🇯🇲 (@wolf_gangclarke) January 11, 2016
I think the only things that might hold Clarke back from committing this weekend are whether he receives an offer, and if the coaches are ready to take him right now. If the Orange offer, and they’re willing to accept his commitment, I remain completely convinced he’ll be wearing Orange in 2016 and will be wanting to let the world know before the weekend is over. I know that UMass has made a hard push for the 6-foot-3 safety, but ever since decommitting from Oregon State, his heart has seemed to be set on playing for Syracuse. If he gets his offer, I think he’ll commit just about on the spot.
Of the rest on the list, Beesley and Armstrong seem like they’re on the verge of pulling the trigger. Unlike Clarke, both players already have offers from Syracuse, and both were previously committed to Babers and his staff at Bowling Green. Armstrong is a 6-foot-2, 215 pound outside linebacker with solid speed and coverage skills that come from having played plenty of wide receiver and tight end in high school. He’s also considering Cincinnati and Wake Forest, but if things go well during his visit this weekend, I think he’s another player who will pull the trigger and commit to the Orange.
Beesley is a 6-foot-3, 220 pound defensive end from Michigan whose commitment to Syracuse seems more or less inevitable. He plays a position of extreme need right now, as defensive line depth is more or less nonexistent, particularly at the start of the 2016 season, and the idea of potentially earning early playing time as a true freshman at an ACC program has to be enticing. Beesley is a little undersized and may not be as physically ready to compete right away as some of the other defensive end prospects Syracuse is pursuing, including Kendall Coleman, Jerrion Nelson, and Jaquwon Nelson, but given his relationship with the staff, I think he commits this weekend.
Now we get into the more mysterious part of the weekend, and that’s guys like the Narbonne High trio in Cooper, Riley, and Byrd. Syracuse is clearly going hard after wide receivers and offensive playmakers in general, and these are three very athletic players who can make things happen with their speed. Byrd does not have an offer and quite frankly seems to be a bit of a fallback option at this point, but Cooper and Riley both have offers from Syracuse and are high on the Orange despite being committed to Arizona.
Cooper is likely a little higher on the board for Syracuse than Riley, and both are projected to play wide receiver/slot in the Dino Babers offense. However, Riley might be easier for Syracuse to flip since Arizona asked the dynamic, 5-foot-9 speedster to greyshirt – meaning they want him to pay his own way for the upcoming fall semester and not actually join the team until spring of 2017. That’s a less than idea prospect for any recruit, and Syracuse is in an excellent position with the talented athlete.
Cooper, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same problem in terms of being asked to greyshirt but also seems to be very high on the Orange. Now the question becomes whether the duo are a package deal, and if Syracuse is even ready to accept one, or both, of the playmakers. There are several top level wide receivers Syracuse remains in the mix for, so naturally it becomes about the numbers, and where the pair of Californians fall on the big board.
The next three weekends should be very exciting for the Syracuse football program and its fans, as the Orange build on the current class of 2016. The class currently sits at 12 pledges, and you can expect the staff to take anywhere from 8-12 more players before it’s all said and done. How many of those new commitments will come out of this upcoming weekend? That remains to be seen, but the Orange are in excellent position with all of the targets heading to campus on Saturday.