Over the last year and a half, it seems Doug Marrone has had one mission on the recruiting trail: build a dominant defensive line. Judging from this past season the concept looks to be paying off. The Orange has been trying to reel in big ends like 4-star Ebenezer Ogundeko and Justin Moody of Pittsburgh, Syracuse is also moving higher on the radar of 3-star Georgia pass rusher Rakim Peters. The Fizz caught up with Peters, who says he plans on making an official visit to the Hill soon now that his season at Apalachee HS is over.
The 6’3” 245 lb. senior piled up 72 tackles and 7 sacks for the Wildcats this year. Peters has a ton of raw talent and is very agile for his size. His athleticism carries over to the basketball court, where he’s been a varsity starter as well for the last four years. His football coach Shane Davis says his year round training and versatility is keeping him in great shape. It showed on the gridiron this season. Davis experimented with Rakim at OLB as well. But he tells The Fizz he’s more effective on the line.
“I think he’s good enough to play the DE position. He’s bigger right now than he’s ever been. I feel like his best position in on the defensive line. He’s very tough to block, he makes plays in space, and he’s just a really good athlete.”
Peters has always kept the Orange at the top of his list. The Winder, Georgia native has only taken one official visit to Purdue this fall, but plans on taking his others to Syracuse, Colorado State, UCF and Western Kentucky. For a player with over a dozen offers, Rakim stressed that he wants to find “a home.” It doesn’t matter how flashy the program is, what’s most important is that he can find a football family. During the season, Peters and Greg Adkins seemed to have built that strong relationship. The two kept in touch every week or so. But Rakim tells the Fizz he hasn’t heard from Adkins or the SU coaching staff in about a month. Although it’s not uncommon for a coach to back off of a recruit during this time of year, it’s something to keep an eye on now that SU has nabbed a few recent commits, most notably California DE Trevon Trejo.
It’s a numbers game for Syracuse since this year’s class may only consist of 16 recruits. The Orange already has ten commitments, and has a good shot at landing other defensive line targets such as Ogundeko, Moody or Florida prospect Malik Brown. He, like Ebo, visited SU this past weekend and had a terrific time (if Brown does commit to SU, it may be simply for the BBQ). Since last year’s class, The Dougie has received nine D-Line commitments (Myles Hilliard, Markus Pierce-Brewster, Marcus Coleman, Josh Manley, Zian Jones, Isaiah Johnson, Wayne Williams and Trejo).
It will be interesting to see how much interest Syracuse shows in the 6 weeks until Signing Day. Peters has no clear favorite, and is still taking his time with his officials. The 3-star prospect is very soft spoken, but is still a motivator on the football field. Davis tells The Fizz he’s a team player and doesn’t beg for the spotlight.
“Rakim is not a rah-rah guy. He’s more likely, after he makes a big play, to go pick up the opponent and pat them on the back than he will be to jump and down and try and grab the spotlight. Not a trash talker, but when the balls snaps, the boy’s going to play.”
To twist the Peach State plot even further, there is another 3-star Apalachee HS defensive stud that cold be taking an official visit to the Hill. Johnny Thompson verbally committed to Purdue back in July. But after the Boilermaker fired head coach Danny Hope three weeks ago, Thompson is unsure. Syracuse was the first program to offer Thompson last year, and the 6’2” 205 lb. prospect likes the thought of playing college ball up north.
“I have tons of family up there. I actually have a cousin that went to Syracuse. I enjoyed [the campus]. I liked the academic side of it, it was a good place for me. If I needed any support I had family.”
The bad news is that Thompson hasn’t heard from the SU coaching staff since the summer. The reason could be that Syracuse gave him an initial verbal offer then, but never extended to him an official written one by the August deadline. Thompson was unsure if he had received an official offer. Nonetheless, the LB said he wanted to visit Syracuse, Colorado State and Louisiana-Lafayette because of the Purdue coaching change.
It shows SU’s ascent that it might have to turn away good talent, including top defensive prospects from a football mad state like Georgia. But the numbers game is at the discretion of the SU coaches. Syracuse could try for the 2-for-1 Apalachee Special with Peters and Thompson. If the Orange wants the duo, it’ll have to show them some love.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald