It’s no secret that the Syracuse Orange football staff has its sights set on the state of North Carolina during this year’s recruiting cycle, and specifically SouthLake Christian, the home to highly coveted running back Robert Washington. But Washington isn’t the only target that Scott Shafer and his staff are interested in. In fact, between the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes, Shafer may be able to find his future starting cornerbacks at SouthLake.
That’s because SouthLake is also home to class of 2016 athlete Will Eason, and class of 2017 defensive back Aapri Washington. Both players have expressed interest in the Orange, and the feeling appears to be mutual, though Eason is still waiting on his offer from the coaching staff.
Right now, the only potential issue with Eason might be his size, and figuring out where to play him at the next level. Eason has speed to burn, but at 5-foot-7 it may be a little bit tough to figure out how he factors in on either side of the ball. But frankly, his size shouldn’t be the only determining factor. After all, this is a young man who recently ran the 100 meter event in 10.65 seconds, which is flat out blazing speed. When you can add an athlete like Eason, you lock up that speed and find a place to utilize it, whether that’s in the secondary, as a receiver, or even just on punt and kick returns.
Let’s be realistic, it’s not like Syracuse hasn’t had smaller cornerbacks in the past. Kevin Abrams was a two-time All-American at corner and eventual draft pick by the Detroit Lions, and he was just 5-foot-8. And if you’re looking at the offensive side of the ball, the Orange have certainly had their share of smaller receiver/return specialist combinations, including guys like Maurice Jackson and Jamel Riddle. Heck, former star running back Joe Morris was only 5-foot-7.
Eason is a class of 2016 prospect, and while right now he’s still waiting to get offers from power five schools, he’s getting plenty of interest from programs like Ohio State, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, and Ole Miss. He’s also shown plenty of interest in Syracuse. After all, that’s him up there in the header image rocking a Syracuse t-shirt.
Check out Will’s 2014 highlight reel:
On the other side, the more traditional cornerback prospect is Aapri Washington, a class of 2017 prospect and, yes, the cousin of Robert. Like Eason, Aapri is a little undersized at 5-foot-8, but also like Eason, he’s got a ton of athletic talent that will propel him to a high major program. He’s already got an offer from Syracuse, and despite being just a sophomore he also already holds offers from programs like Boston College, TCU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UConn, West Virginia, and Wake Forest.
Both Washington and Eason have already checked out Syracuse in the past, and like Robert Washington, both are members of the Team USA football program that competes in the International Bowl each year. Syracuse has a very realistic shot at landing both of these outstanding young athletes, as well as Robert Washington, potentially opening up a pipeline to SouthLake Christian.
If you’re thinking that the trend is moving more toward bigger cornerbacks thanks to the Seattle Seahawks, well, to a degree that is the case. However, one of the potential starting corners for Syracuse this year, Antwan Cordy, is also just 5-foot-8. Frankly, at some point you have to put as much speed in the secondary as possible. The Orange defensive backs have been burned deep far too often over the last decade, and it’s as much about speed and quickness as anything else. If you’re not fast enough to stay with the receivers in the ACC, you’re not going to get on the field. And the one thing that players like Will Eason and Aapri Washington won’t have to worry about is speed.
I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to trade a couple of inches of height for true, burner speed and agility.
Check out Aapri Washington’s highlights from last season: