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JuCo Junction: Syracuse Adding Slew of Players to Compete in ACC ASAP

Doug Marrone has been grabbing JuCo prospects like he’s holiday shopping. Syracuse has brought in over a number of junior college athletes over the last few weeks. Two-star MLB Luke Arciniega committed yesterday after a terrific visit on the Hill last weekend, making it five pledges in the last ten days for the Orange. The last commitment before this recent fantastic group was Augustus Edwards… five months ago.

Arciniega’s commitment makes it 13 for this class, with six being junior college transfers. Whether the class abides by Greg Adkins’ 16 recruit cap, at least a third of it will be JuCos. This isn’t a bad thing, and it says Marrone is serious about winning in the ACC. Not in a few years, but right now. The Orange is trying to avoid that 4-5 win “get-your-feet-wet” season. If you bring in the size and athletic maturity Marrone has nabbed over the last few weeks, it shows SU wants a successful ACC debut.

This class was going to be small anyway. SU will probably be in the high teens, after bringing in 22 commits last winter (19 are currently with the Orange after removing Myles HilliardDontez Ford and Ben Barrett). So SU is filling in this class with prospects that can compete right away for starting positions. It offsets the class being so small, and none of these verbals are binding. Every school has a few late switches in the weeks heading to NSD.

Here’s the physical size of the 2013 JuCo commits. Some will fill starting spots next season:

2-star MLB Luke Arciniega               6’4” 245 lbs

2-star OLB Josh Kirkland                 6’3” 215 lbs

2-star DE Trevon Trejo                       6’4” 245 lb.

2-star OL John Miller                         6’4” 310 lbs

2-star DT Wayne Williams               6’6” 335 lbs

3-star DB Darius Kelly                       5’11” 190 lbs

Most of them are already bigger than the Orange players currently at those positions. In terms of height and weight, Kirkland and Arciniega are both larger than SU’s most filled-out LB, Oliver Vigile (6’3” 225 lbs). Wayne Williams is bigger than Zian Jones, 6’4” 315 lbs. on the line. Size alone does not win games, but the addition of that physicality is to try and prevent being pushed around by a stronger football conference. Phil Steele just published his postseason rankings of the toughest college football schedules in ’12. Seven ACC schools made the top 45. The Big East had one: South Florida.

This has been a trend for Marrone. Over HCDM’s last three recruiting classes, he’s brought in 8 JuCos. One in 2011 (Sriki Diabate), two in 2012 (Jones, Markus Pierce-Brewster) and so far these five verbals this year. Diabate and MPB were starters this past fall, and Jones was regularly featured in the rotation. That’s a pretty good history. They will play. It’s just a matter of time, and how well they can adjust during spring practices and summer workouts. It took California JuCo Deon Goggins a couple seasons to adapt. Pierce-Brewster played right away. Sooner or later, they make impacts. 

The most important factor is these players address needs. With the graduations of Diabate and fifth-year senior Dan Vaughn, SU was faced with a big question mark at MLB. Would Marquis Spruill have to move back there? Would Vigile or Cam Lynch have to be converted? The addition of a powerful Arciniega helps solve the problem. The Rocklin, CA native has sideline-to-sideline speed and could step in right away to aid a suddenly thin position.

Williams and Trejo add depth to a defensive line that will be SU’s strongest asset next year. Three-star ACCAC Conference first-teamer Kelly replaces a defensive leader in Shamarko Thomas, and John Miller becomes a necessary addition to the O-Line. In fact, Syracuse didn’t have any DB, MLB or OL commits before this recent JuCo stream.

The only concerning part is that these older additions are flooding in at once. All five recruits were offered in a recent three-week span between 11/16 and 12/7 according to Mike McAlister of CuseNation.com. With National Signing Day around the corner, this could suggest SU realizes it doesn’t have great odds at reeling in more high school products, and is scrambling to fill the class. Regardless, Syracuse is bringing in talent that can play right away.

The term “grace period” may not exist in Marrone’s vocabulary. All he cares about while entering the ACC next fall is winning. JuCos will help him do that.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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