Can the Orange grab Florida’s Raynard Felton away from Rutgers and others?
With Chandler Jones declaring for the NFL draft and Mikhail Marinovich graduating, Syracuse now has huge holes to fill at defensive end.
Jones was the clear-cut best pass rusher for SU, but even with him in the lineup getting pressure on the opposing quarterback was hard to find. Being disruptive in the backfield is essential if the Orange wants to improve from the collapse of 2011. SU has verbal commitments for two pass rushers, Poncho Barnwell and the potentially exciting James Washington, but is not done recruiting for the defensive line.
Here is The Fizz’s list of top defensive linemen Syracuse is still targeting before February’s National Signing Day.
- Josh Manley (Milton HS, GA)
The Fizz placed Manley in its top 5 most likely to land at SU earlier this month. With George Morris committing and Boom Perkins saying adios to the Orange, most of the recruiting focus will be shifted to land JM and Wayne Morgan. Josh told The Fizz Syracuse is in his top 4, but there’s stiff competition with nearby Georgia Tech in the mix. Manley wants to study engineering, and the Yellow Jackets offer one of the best programs for it in the country. GT’s offer feels like it could sway Manley to stay close to home
- Raynard Felton (Jean-Ribault HS, FL)
Felton is a DE/TE and has a handful of offers from small southern schools, but holds only a few from BCS programs including Syracuse and Rutgers. He said in late November the Orange was at the top of his list.
“Syracuse would be either one or two with Purdue. Those are the top two. I feel like I have a good relationship with the [Syracuse] coaching staff, and I like the fact that they’re moving to the ACC. I really couldn’t tell you anything about the school because I haven’t been there yet.”
Purdue has yet to offer him, so SU might have the upper hand. Check him out on film. He fires quickly off the ball and has a great first step.
- Zian Jones (West Los Angeles, CA)
Marrone has gone the JUCO route to add size before and he’s at it once again DM found a gem last season in the California junior college ranks with Deon Goggins and thinks Jones can have the same impact. He’s constantly in the backfield and just a mammoth of a man. Jones clogs the gaps and running lanes consistently, and SU could use another body like him in the trenches.
- Bryan Johnson (Nassau Community College, NY)
Marrone has used his connections at Nassau CC before, and Johnson is a DE that some football insiders think can make an impact at the FBS level.
- Justin Thomason (Eagles Landing Christian Academy, GA)
At 6’3″ and 235 lbs. Thomason is an athletic freak of nature. His head coach, Jonathan Gess, tells The Fizz he has raw natural athleticism and tremendous upside. JT didn’t get serious about football until the 11th grade. The Orange has been mining the southern states for talent and Georgia has become the hot bed for SU with the transition to the ACC. Justin has very high interest in UNC, Vanderbilt, NC State and Western Kentucky, along with Syracuse. Once again the move to ACC can play a major reason why the Orange is still around for the services of Thomason.
National Signing Day is just one month away. There are still a few scholarships left open, and plenty of voids to fill for SU. Marrone and co. have a chance to make a late push for its ’12 class.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert