This has been a terrific stretch for Syracuse football recruiting, but the battle for Brooklyn DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is still the most crucial one of the year for Doug Marrone. Even in a blockbuster summer where Marrone is truly etching his mark on the football program, SU is keeping its eyes on the prize: winning the swing competitions that would take this class from impressive to elite. Here are the two most important players remaining on the slate:
Ebenezer Ogundeko/DE/Brooklyn, NY
Tuesday, when EO announces his pick in a tight 3-horse race between Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Florida, he’ll have Orange Nation and the coaching staff alike sitting on pins and needles.
As has been well documented here at The Fizz, the payout that comes with landing Ebo is massive. First, you would have NYC’s top rated player coming to a school that has trained its recruiting focus on setting up the territory fence around the five boroughs. The natural exclamation point would be to snag the best player in the region from which so many recent commits – including Ebo’s best friend and intended college teammate Augustus Edwards - have come from. He would represent the program-changer Marrone has discussed since he took the job. The best athletes in-state have been understandably dazzled by bigger programs. If Ogundeko does what Ishaq, Jarron Jones and Chad Kelly did not and decides to stay home, it shifts the dynamic of SU football. It may begin a parade of New York’s elite talent marching to the Hill annually. Not to mention, SU adds an enormously talented end that steps into the wake of Chandler Jones departure and replenishes a position Syracuse needs help at badly.
Encouraging for SU fans is that Ebo attended Edwards’ college announcement and they traveled to CNY together for Ebo’s final campus visit. Gus told The Fizz’s Kevin Fitzgerald he would “try to recruit [Ogundeko] a little” during the trip. While on the Hill, EO tweeted he ran into Chan Jones and NFL veteran Dwight Freeney. Not only are Jones and Freeney tremendous ambassadors for the program, they’re also defensive ends who grew up nearby (Jones – Rochester, Freeney – Hartford). One can only imagine what might have been exchanged between the trio.
Alex Officer/LT/Rochester, NY
Don’t let AO 2.0 fly under the radar of importance because he plays an underappreciated position. As I wrote earlier this summer, Officer is a tremendous blocker who understands the offense as a well-oiled machine and knows more than just his role on every snap. He’s instinctive, physically massive, and a relentless run blocker.
This is both a must-win and a very winnable battle for SU. Officer’s only other offers are from Pittsburgh, UMass and FCS Old Dominion. For Syracuse to land AO 2.0 over UMass it’ll have to top Minutemen TE Jerome Lewis who is actually AO’s older brother despite a different last name. It is impossible to stress how much SU needs skilled depth on the O-line. After all, those big guys will have to carve out a pocket for a first-year starting quarterback in a new, more competitive conference.
2013 has been a resounding success on the recruiting trail considering last year’s late season collapse and low expectations for this year from fans and media. But with a few key pickups already in the books, these final battles could set up SU with a roster capable of turning some serious heads.
Posted: Jake Moskowitz