The Syracuse University football program is already two-thirds of the way toward filling up the recruiting class of 2016, and the remaining openings could shrink even more within the next two weeks with Jamal Holloway and Moe Neal both poised to make a decision. Both players raved about their recent visit to campus, and at this point both appear to be Syracuse leans. With 11 commitments and only about 18 total scholarships available, what might the rest of the class look like?
There will be either six or seven spots available, depending on what happens with defensive end Brandon Ginnetti, who was originally a member of the class of 2015 but wound up deferring his senior season and plans on arriving in January. Ginnetti suffered a bad foot injury, and how well he recovers will tell the tale of how he could fit into Syracuse plans moving forward. Assuming he is fully recovered by the time the spring semester rolls around, he would be the 12th (current) member of the class of 2016, making it about six slots left open.
Let’s get optimistic for a moment and assume that Ginnetti will arrive in January as planned, and Moe Neal and Jamal Holloway will decide to join the Orange. That would bump the class up to 14 members, out of an anticipated 18 scholarships. Obviously, more slots could open up depending on what happens with the current roster, but for now let’s work under the assumption that the cap is at 18.
That only leaves four openings left, which first of all means that the staff is going to be extremely patient, but also means that recruits who are high on Syracuse could see the door closing and decide to pull the trigger – assuming the staff is willing to let them. This cycle has already taught us that the staff is willing to turn players away, given how small the class is. If this were a 25 person class, I think you’d see the staff taking a few more chances, but with so few roster spaces open they have to be pickier than usual.
Here are some of the names to monitor as we head into the fall:
The 4-star defensive back from Maryland is one of the highest profile players Syracuse is recruiting this year, and the 5-foot-11 prospect remains high on Syracuse. His trip earlier this summer was far better than he ever expected, and the Orange would certainly jump on Burrell if he chooses to commit, particularly given how little experience there is in the defensive secondary, combined with questions about Marquise Blair. Duke and Nebraska appear to be major players, as does Wisconsin. Speaking of Wisconsin…
A 3-star defensive back from Orlando, the 6-foot-1 Burch was thought to be a Wisconsin commit, but was turned away amid speculation that his academics might not be quite up to par at the moment. Wisconsin is basically out of the picture at this point after shunning the talented DB, who plans on visiting Syracuse sometime this fall. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Syracuse take two more defensive backs out of its remaining four spots, particularly if both Burrell and Burch wanted to commit.
And that brings us to Devon Clarke. The 6-foot-3 defensive back from Florida was an Oregon State commitment, but de-committed and quickly put Syracuse at the top of his list. For the past couple months, it’s seemed like only a matter of time before Clarke pulled the trigger and committed to the Orange. However, chances are he’s waiting to make an announcement in the fall, but could possibly be seeing himself getting edged out of the picture by guys like Burrell and Burch. Clarke is a tall, athletic talent, but I’m betting the Syracuse staff is waiting to see what happens with Burrell and Burch before they would take a commitment from Clarke.
Another interesting defensive back prospect is Martin Mangram, whose uncle played for the Orange in the 80s and is currently a professor at SU. Unlike the other defensive backs on this list, Mangram is a true cornerback as opposed to a safety or hybrid, so he’s in an interesting spot because guys like Clarke and Burch don’t really impact him on the field. Syracuse doesn’t have any corners committed, unless someone like Scoop Bradshaw winds up transitioning there from safety, or possibly if Darius Stubbs eventually switches from hybrid to CB.
Another defensive possibility is Colby Reeder, a linebacker from Delaware who seemed to be on the verge of committing to Syracuse around the same time as Dymelle Parker but, for whatever reason, has held off. Syracuse doesn’t really need another linebacker in this class, particularly with the recent addition of Adam Giordano to the 2015 class, and quite frankly to me it feels like Reeder is waiting for more options to come along. I wouldn’t anticipate Reeder joining the class, simply because it seems as though if he’d wanted to, he would have already.
Syracuse missed out on its top tight end prospect in Sean McKeon, but Jay Rose could fill that slot nicely. The 6-foot-3, 230 pounder is transitioning to tight end from quarterback and is a solid athlete, and currently holds offers from Wisconsin, Maryland, West Virginia, Boston College, and NC State, so he’s clearly got talent. He’s a 3-star prospect and it appears he’s the top TE left on Syracuse’s board, and at the top of their wish list. Rose told Scout.com he’s planning on deciding by the end of the summer, so a commitment could come at any time.
Odds are that Syracuse won’t take another offensive lineman, but it’d be interesting to see them take a commitment from 3-star prospect Chase Behrndt, a 6-foot-4, 295 pounder from Missouri who has Syracuse ranked among his finalists. It seems like adding Sam Heckel probably eliminated the Orange, but what makes it interesting is the possibility that, with such a pressing need for defensive tackles, Behrndt could potentially be added with an eye toward trying him out on defense. And if that doesn’t work out, well, you can never have enough offensive line depth, right?
Bo Peek/Christian Colon
Speaking of defensive tackles, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Syracuse to flip either Bo Peek or Christian Colon, two high profile DTs who have friends in Syracuse’s 2016 class. Peek is good friends with both Rex Culpepper and Scoop Bradshaw and is in communication with the Orange coaches, and Colon is part of “Team Washington” – the group of friends that includes Robert Washington and Moe Neal. If Syracuse adds Neal, keep an eye on Colon. I wouldn’t bet on him flipping from Penn State, but it becomes more of a possibility. Peek is currently committed to Stanford, but he follows and interacts with a good number of Syracuse coaches, players, and fans on Twitter. Both players are long shots, but definitely not impossibilities.
Tyler Thompson/Amir Tyler
Both Thompson and Tyler are, at this point, backup plans to Moe Neal. If Neal picks Syracuse, they’ll fall off the radar for the Orange simply because there wouldn’t be enough room for another hybrid. It’s funny, because both players seemed like virtual locks to commit to Syracuse earlier this spring, but either through their own hesitation or, possibly, the coaches telling them to hold off while things played out with higher priority targets (such as Washington, Neal, and Tre Bryant), their spots appear to be gone unless Neal chooses to go elsewhere.
Don’t count on it. Tim Lester basically laid out the reason why wide receiver was downgraded as a priority in this class when he mentioned that he expects either Eric Dungey or Kenterius Womack to switch from quarterback, and now that we’ve got official heights and weights, it’s becoming a little more clear that if either one switches it’ll probably be Womack. Womack measured in at just 6-foot-1, 170, which is small for a quarterback but solid size for a receiver, especially when you factor in his reported 4.4 speed. If Womack stays at QB, however, you could see Syracuse make a late push for someone like Gene Coleman or Kolton Huber. Obviously, this changes if someone like Donald Stewart decides he wants to come to Syracuse, because there’s just no way the coaches would be able to turn away that type of talent. However, Stewart appears to be headed to either Stanford or Michigan, with Syracuse probably sitting in third place.
Obviously, there are other names who could factor in that I haven’t mentioned, but I’d expect the remaining class to come from the ones listed above. Clearly that changes based on where guys like Burrell and Burch and Neal go, but I think you can probably count on at least a couple of the guys above to join the Syracuse recruiting class of 2016.