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Early Bird May Go Hungry: SU First in on TE Taboada, But Powers Are Flocking

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Syracuse brought in two highly-rated tight ends in the class of 2012, and a third to kick off its 2013 class when Tyler Provo gave his verbal pledge last week. But that hasn’t seemed to stop the Orange from pursuing even more talent at the position.

Marist School (Atlanta, GA) prospect Greg Taboada is yet another tight end target that the ‘Cuse set its sights on early.

Taboada’s Head Coach at Marist, Alan Chadwick, tells The Fizz Syracuse and Boston College were the first two schools to offer a scholarship, with Wake Forest also providing an early offer.

Since then, several bigger dogs have joined the fray. Arkansas, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oregon are among the schools to offer Taboada more recently. He has seen his recruiting stock start to soar.

So where does that leave the Orange? Chadwick says no frontrunners have emerged yet for Taboada. But there have been rumblings that the tight end will favor the more recent additions to his offer list over the less glamorous institutions that were quicker to offer him.

Which would be a shame for SU, a program that recognized Taboada’s potential from the start. Recruiting Coordinator Greg Adkins already visited Marist this spring to watch Taboada play. With no timetable set for the tight end’s decision, there is plenty of time left for the Syracuse coaches to convince Taboada to head up north to a team that uses its tight ends productively.

SU (along with most other schools) first noticed Taboada as a defensive prospect. Initially a linebacker, the 6-foot-5, the 235 pounder moved to defensive end after Marist struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Coach Chadwick saw an immediate fit.

“Right away you could tell he was pretty good at that, very naturally skilled at that. Had not really repped it or techniqued it (Ed. Note: some serious coach-speak going on here) or anything like that. We just did it, and… shoot. His athleticism, his basketball skills, and his size – just a combination of the three – made him effective as a defensive end, particularly as a pass rusher.”

And with his linebacking history, Taboada is still perfectly able to retreat and make plays in pass coverage. He’d be a dangerous weapon for Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer to have at his disposal.

But that’s just on defense. According to Chadwick, Taboada prefers the offensive side of the ball. Which didn’t faze SU or any other school from going after him.

“Most of the attention he was getting was from the defensive side of the ball. But once they found out the kind of athlete he is and the kind of complete package he is, and that he wants to play tight end, they said, ‘Alright, we’ll take you at whatever you want to play. Tight end, defense, doesn’t matter.’”

Emphasis on the he wants to play tight end. Because the kid’s defensive tape is almost too impressive to imagine him playing any other position.

However, there is plenty of reason to believe Taboada could be an elite college tight end, as well. Chadwick’s teams run the option offense, so the pass-catching opportunities for receivers and tight ends are few and far between. Even so, Taboada took home 6-AAAA All-Region honors, meaning he was the best tight end to play in his region.

The recognition comes mostly because from blocking, and Chadwick explains why his player is such a powerful blocker.

“He’s got a great base, good strong hips and legs to roll and extend into blocks, and get movement.”

And just like on defense, Taboada has special versatility.

“He’s big enough, strong enough, and has good enough feet and speed to split him out wide as a split end and use him to (take advantage of) smaller defensive backs or even to crack on safeties.”

Taboada runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, and Chadwick aims to get him more involved as a pass-catcher in the fall despite the team’s option offense. Teams are flocking to the tight end despite his lack of experience in the receiving game. Imagine if he puts together a solid senior season catching the football, his three stars from the recruiting services could easily turn into four.

Does Taboada belong on defense, or is his potential on offense just as high? That’s a question for his future college coaching staff to answer. He plays power forward for the Marist basketball team, and we’ve seen plenty of basketball power forwards succeed later on as tight ends.

Syracuse would like to look up in a couple years and see Taboada dunking a football through the Carrier Dome goalposts during a touchdown celebration.

Posted: Andrew Kanell

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