Syracuse’s Blueprint to Start Landing the Blue-Chip Recruits It Covets

Orange Nation is frustrated after losing on top-notch talent. Here’s why it happened.

Chad Kelly announced his decision to attend Clemson last week, becoming the next prized recruit to go down as a near miss for Doug Marrone and staff. Kelly followed Ishaq Williams and David Perkins earlier this year as big fish that Syracuse just couldn’t quite reel in.

And while it speaks well for the coaching staff that the Orange is even in contention for this level of recruits, the question becomes: What’s holding the Orange back from finishing on these top prospects? There’s no one reason to point to, but there are a few areas in which the Orange is simply a step behind the elite level programs, like Clemson and Notre Dame.

1. Facilites: As The Fizz has discussed before, SU needs a step up in facilities to compete at the highest level. Practice fields, workout areas, training centers all make a HUGE difference in recruiting. They are a high priority for most of these 17 and 18-year-old prospects who are enamored with being on the cutting edge. The great facilities a program like Notre Dame offers provides a “WOW” factor for recruits when they visit campus. As exciting as the Carrier Dome can be for some, it hasn’t been The Loud House in years for football, and can’t compete with the atmosphere of Big Ten or southern stadiums.

2. Exposure: The Orange will take a nice step forward in this area next fall with three primetime games, but for years the best they could hope for has been the noon game on ESPN2. The top recruits want to be on network TV and get national attention. Clemson (Kelly) Notre Dame (Ishaq, Perkins) and Penn State (Jarron Jones) all offer more national exposure than Syracuse at this point.

3. The Big East: Syracuse has no intense rivalry in football, and the Big East has fallen way behind the other BCS conferences in recent years. Pitt, Rutgers, Cincinnati and South Florida have been the bench marks in the league for the past five years. Having those teams on the schedule just doesn’t have the same cache of squaring off against Ohio State and Michigan or Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida State every year.

4. Winning Big: The Pinstripe Bowl was a landmark victory and a giant step forward for the SU football program. However, the bar is set much higher at big time programs that are landing blue-chip recruits. Alabama, Penn State and Notre Dame have expectations of national rankings and BCS bowl games every year.

Number four is the key. Winning on the field will lead to increased exposure, fewer empty seats in the Carrier Dome, and more revenue to improve facilities. By winning a bowl game and being in on recruits like Kelly and Ishaq, the Orange is ahead of schedule under Marrone. In order to start landing those top level kids, SU needs to prove at the very least it is a perennial contender in the Big East.

For now, Syracuse needs to concentrate on beating Big East rivals like Rutgers and Connecticut in recruiting. It’s still too early to expect the Orange to win a recruiting battle against Alabama, Clemson, and Florida State. SU is getting closer to that level, and has done it quicker than many expected, but there’s still a long way to go before we can expect top level national recruits to start flocking to CNY.

Posted: Steve Neikam

16 Comments on this Post

  1. When SU played exciting offensive schemes, they were able to recruit McNabb, Graves, Harrison, etc. Only way to get top flight talent to 2nd tier program is to give them opportunity to showcase their talents. I don’t think we lose Kelly to a school like Clemson if he felt offense suited his skillset. You can sell defensive players as well when high powered offense gives those players a chance to make a real difference. Many of the programs that saw big turnarounds were the TCU’s, Mizzou’s, Ok St,etc – all programs with innovative offensive schemes. Coach DM is from a high powered NFL offense. He needs to bring that same type of innovation to SU in order to get talent. (Does anyone think that a Tubby Smith offense could recruit quality roundball talent to SU?)

  2. your missing out on one thing, let’s call it step 5.

    When a recruit comes on campus, they are introduced to a player and they hang out with that player. when they go to clemson/auburn they are introduced to a girl.

    also why the change?

    last week you felt that getting close to clemson was like beating the eagles, now we are closer to that then anyone would’ve predicted. su is never going to be ready to beat the eagles.

  3. DR Bill

    The fans need to come out and support the team….. sell the place out regardless of the opponent or the record of SU. CNY fans want to wait until the team is great, than jump on the bandwagon… you need to support the team NOW… that increases revenue, shows recruits that people care about the team.. If I were Dr. Gross, I would set up a campaign now for supporting our return to greatness that the fans could participate in… donations, special seating at the games, insider access to SU football… etc. etc. and the message sent should be get on board now… we need you now.. once we reach greatness, again, those who were not part of the campaign to get us to the top will be closed out…. no access to tickets. Ask any marketing pro and they will tell you the key to real success is to be able to create a demand where one does not exist and before one exists. Go Cuse

  4. Carlton

    “Elite level programs, like Clemson” Was that a jk? Clemson is nowheres near a elite program.

  5. Steve Neikam

    No question that a more exciting style of play, and a more packed Carrier Dome could be selling points for recruits, and I do expect the Orange to air it out more on offense this year. However, I don’t think it’s fair to expect fans to spend their money to go watch a team unless they are seeing a quality product. The team is much more quality now than it has been in recent years, so hopefully attendance will go up as well.

    Also, Clemson may not be elite in the sense of winnning national championships, but they are inking top 20 recruiting classes, including the number five ranked QB that Syracuse coveted.

  6. Carlton

    How about they arent even “elite” in the sense of winning period. If it makes you feel better in losing kelly to an average clemson football team by calling them “elite” cool but you just sound foolish b/c they are about as “elite” as miami of ohio.

  7. I think some in depth reporting on whats being done to upgrade facilities would be a good article. Ive been curious to hear how that is going. I think I read about Marrone and Gross making it a priority .

  8. Steve Neikam

    Miami of Ohio doesn’t pull in top ten recruiting classes.

    Clemson’s recruiting class right now ranks just ahead of USC, Miami, LSU, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Notre Dame. Pulled a top ten class last year as well, top 20 the two years prior, and top 5 the year before that. In recruiting terms, that’s elite.

  9. SeattleOrange

    2nd that Roger. I’d be interested in hearing what SU is doing in regards to facilities, and how far away we are from having facilities to compete with those of “elite” schools.
    Also, what’s the word on Rasheem Stroud? Is this a kid that is really looking at Cuse or does he want to play alongside his bro? He says he wants to go somewhere he will make a difference. I’d say another OLB wouldn’t hurt at all.

  10. If we can’t sign our top NYS talent, then how do you expect us to get other top talent let alone out of state 4 star talent.

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