Syracuse Still Waiting: Ebo Chooses Clemson, Laray Smith Delays Decision

If Ebo (left) and Smith both commit to Syracuse it would mark a turning point for the program.

Update: 11:04p. Laray Smith was believed to be making his decision between SU and Tennessee tonight. He suddenly decided to delay his announcement. The speedy running back was set to choose during the Semper Fi game, but called it off. It was not immediately known why he decided to postpone. 

Is it because his Brooklyn buddy Ogundeko chose Clemson? While the two are obviously friends, it’s hard to believe that forced Smith to change course. Clemson was seen all along as the front runner for Ebo. Could Smith have been led to believe he would be heading to the Hill with Ebo, then was caught off guard and needed more time? It’s possible, but unlikely. They were never seen as a package deal. It is, however, possible that Marrone’s uncertainty with the NFL could cause Smith to be taking more time. It would be completely understandable if Laray wanted to see how the dominoes fell with Marrone and the SU coaching staff before committing. 

SU was hoping to go 2-for-2 tonight. Instead the Orange went 0-for-1, and will now have to wait out the rain delay. 

* * *

Update: 6:09p. Not surprisingly, Ebenezer Ogundeko chooses Clemson tonight in St. Pete. No matter how many bowl games SU wins, how much progress it’s made since the Groobers Error, going head-to-head with a perennial contender like the Tigers is incredibly difficult. You’re battling weather, facilities, attention, prestige, and BCS bowls. At its heart, SU is a basketball school. Clemson is a football one.

While the initial reaction from Orange Nation is one of “same old story,” this actually played out differently. It’s easy to lump Ebo’s decision to leave the Empire State with Ishaq, Jarron Jones and Chad Kelly. All were highly sought after stars, recruited by national powers, who left their home state. But unlike those previous cases, SU was a legitimate possibility for Ebo.

Most felt Ishaq’s inclusion of the Orange in his final three was a favor from his father, an SU grad. Jones never seriously considered SU. Reports from Western New York said Kelly’s visits to Syracuse were mainly a courtesy. Ebo had a decision to make. He had a number of friends from the five boroughs heading to the Hill. One of his best friends had already committed in Gus Edwards. The program was clearly ascending, is heading to the ACC, has won two postseason games in three years, and he was in the house for both SU’s loss to USC at MetLife and the beat down of WVU in the Pinstripe.

The scoreboard will say Syracuse lost on Ebo. But the game was much closer than it’s ever been in the last eight years for a prospect of his caliber. We wish him the best, and SU’s current recruiting class is still one of its best in years. Hopefully, Doug Marrone stays at SU and Laray Smith commits to the Orange in a few hours. 

Keep locked to @orangefizz and our conversation below for Laray’s decision later tonight.


* * *

Tonight may help define Syracuse football’s return from purgatory more than any other this offseason. A pair of highly sought after New York City products could both choose the Orange, and set up the program for years to come. Four-star DE/OLB Ebenezer Ogundeko will make his decision between SU and Clemson during the second quarter of the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando. Three-star RB Laray Smith is also expected to make his decision between Syracuse and Tennessee during the Semper Fidelis All American Bowl.

  • Follow @orangefizz on Twitter for the latest on both announcements
  • Ask questions, send us your thoughts, and join our conversation below with The Fizz’s “Cover it Live” thread!

If SU can reel in both it officially marks the program as the prime destination for the most elite Empire State talent. It’s only been four years since Doug Marrone took over the wreckage of the Groobers Error, but it’s been a long road. While the Orange has clearly improved the program on and off the field, SU has still lost the biggest battles in the state. Ishaq Williams and Jarron Jones chose Notre Dame. Chad Kelly opted for Clemson. If the Orange beat the Tigers and Vols for Ebo and Laray, then SU has established itself on the national stage.

Rumors swirl around Doug Marrone as well, as he interviews for NFL jobs. Could that impact these two decisions?

Ogundeko has been through a wild recruitment process, originally saying he would commit back in July along his buddy Augustus Edwards. Gus chose SU, and many figured that would mean Ebo too since the duo suggested they were a package deal, Ebo decided to push his decision date until after the season. He’s spent the last handful of days in Florida training, and according to his Twitter page been having fun all week.

Just got out from Practice… I did good today. 

Been doing gold at the practices I gotta keep it up. Trying to dominate at the game

I was just on ESPN2, I’m hype.

Big game today.

Ogundeko will be playing for the black squad in the All-American game at 5p on ESPN. He’ll be wearing number 58 and his head coach will be Herm Edwards. He’s the only prospect from New York State to play in the game. If Ogundeko does choose Syracuse, Orange Nation will finally have that big 5-star commit that has dodged SU for years. Usually during these All-American games, there will brief pauses in the action for quick interviews with the players while they choose their college.

Smith has been in California this week while he prepares for the same game Brooklyn native Wayne Morgan played in last year. Laray told The Fizz earlier this fall Morgan was the one who gave him the idea to look into the Semper Fidelis Bowl. He is also the only NY prospect in his game. There’s a chance he will also make his selection tonight, but according to reports has to clear things his parents. Oregon has been making a big push for Smith lately, and could try to set up a visit for the speedy back. It might be too late though, as SU has been the favorite for Laray for months. You can catch the Semper Fidelis Bowl tonight at 9pm on the NFL Network. Smith will be playing for the East Team.

SU has had a terrific recruiting season already, but these two players would push a good class to great. Adding both Ebp and Laray would make this one of the best recruiting years ever for the program. Ogundeko would shatter the glass ceiling at Syracuse, an invisible boundary that has prevented the program from bringing in nationally sought after recruits. If both commit elsewhere it certainly does not make this offseason a lost one for the Orange, as long as their current group stays intact if Marrone does leave. But a verbal from either (or both) would be an enormous victory for SU football.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

47 Comments on this Post

  1. Someone just looked up the Clemson student directory and found this

    Not good

  2. Means it’s all on Laray to choose Orange and not go with last minute whim Oregon

  3. As I said there, I see nothing and it means nothing if his name was there. A verbal is not binding. He is not an enrolled student evenif he did verbally commit.

  4. Kevin Fitzgerald

    Guys it just means he is an early enrollee. That’s why he is listed in the student directory.

  5. Smitty Section 129

    We need these two to committ. Marrone is staying and with these two we take the ACC by storm.

  6. EBO goes to Clemson!

  7. OrangeCrush27

    I’m more blown away by his comments… “Closer to home?” “Felt more comfortable”. Really?! More then ‘Cuse?! Be real Ebo and say you rather play for a better program….stupid

  8. Maybe we should tell Shaun Williams to stop trying to help us.

  9. OrangeCrush27

    Agreed Malone

  10. Smitty Section 129

    Ebo as much as I’m shocked and upset about your decision I wish you luck in Clemson. I bet when we play Clemson and the other NYC boys are winning you and the Kelly kid from Buffalo are riding the pine wishing you were playing for the real orange. And to Mr. Williams(Ishaq Williams dad) what ever you are advising or telling future orange recruits stop and stay away because it isnt working. You are now 0-2.

  11. Williams is not a mentor he’s nothing more than a posse leader. He has something about SU that he doesn’t like. If he’s sniffing around a recruit for SU drop it then and there. He’s grinning right now, I’m telling you. Why he’s grinning I don’t know. But I did tell you EO was HISTORY and one reason is Williams!! The one good thing about this is EO likes the spot light so coming to SU could be a distraction. Good riddance!!

  12. aspen425

    OrangeCrush27 – Both of your posts exactly what I was thinking. Actually, while I would’ve liked to see him at SU, NOT a great loss. Think he is in for culture shock at “University of Clemson”. Enjoy all your southern boys teammates. Can you say “homesick”?

  13. i know everyone wanted to see ebonezer commit but it really didn’t hurt my feelings and i’ll tell you why. 1. i gather its a me me kind of player.i’d rather see a guy come in and work his tale off and be a team player. 2. i feel we have some promising lb’s, de’s already committed already. if we can keep this class intact i’ll be happy. my feelings about the program are 1. feel su needs to make a big commitment to football and get better facilities.2. try to keep this coaching staff here.

  14. a couple safety’s and some more offensive lineman to fill this class.

  15. Alexander officer may be the biggest NY miss in this year’s class. Looking forward to spring Qb battle. Go Cuse!

  16. Its sads but true SU has exceeded itself with basketball over football. I remember when it was the opposite but now its

    jimmy and top recruits and yet national championships elude us.Maybe Jim can squeeze another one of those before he tees off into the sunset.

  17. I was really hoping that he would pick Syracuse,but after the rumors started to float around about Coach Marrone leaving is when I started worrying. Ebenezer will find out what it’s like to be an outsider in the deep South and that alone will make for a very unhappy young man.

    The second reason for worrying,is look at the DE’s and TE’s that’s already here. I don’t think he would have started here even if he did come.

    Maybe Shaun Williams ought to stay away from the people that we’re recruiting. He is a traitor and his help isn’t needed.

  18. Orange FB fan

    I’m a SU fb fan from Brooklyn. Needless to say I would have loved to see him commit to the Orange. But I am disappointed with what I would assume to be grown men being so negative with the college selection of a young man. Yes, we feel spurned. But whats with all the “we’ll see how out of place he feels in the south” and negativity. Just wish him well. At the end of the day, it was a teenager choosing where he wanted to go to school and play a sport. Its not a decision that has any real bearing on our lives.

  19. Orange FB fan

    One last thing, should fans from other states feel the same way when their prospects commit to Cuse? Should texans say “wait til Zach Allen gets a taste of that Northeast snow….he’ll feel like a fish out of water”? Lets be fans but also be mindful that we are rooting for young men playing in an intercollegiate sport, not professionals.

  20. Cuse Don't Luse

    this is devastating shaun williams is a cuse nightmare of an alum

  21. sorry orange fb fan the comment probrably wasn’t necassary as i’ve been frustrated the last few days. i hear he’s a hell of a football player and do wish the kid well. i do like all the nyc kids that are currently on the roster and are being recruited.

  22. saltine44

    Keep the Shaun Williams of the world away from Syracuse sports programs. He basically is a handler which can get our program into a lot of trouble. Let Dabo deal with the NCAA investigations. I would rather have the Dion Goggins types (character guys) playing here rather than the guys who are playing for themselves. This Laray Smith is a huge get if he does commit. This is the type of player that has been going to LSU for years and more recently Oregon. To have a burner, two sport guy especially one that runs track is huge. I am more excited about L. Smith committing to play on the Hill!

  23. Smitty Section 129

    Lets focus on getting Smith now he is the burner we need on that turf. Love the recruting class so far and going 1 for 2 tonight isnt so bad. EBO has changed his mnind so much dont be surprised if he changes it again before signing day.Yeah I agree Shaun Williams is bad news for SU football. After watching that video of him I thought maybe he was helping us but I was always thinking if he felt that strong about SU then why did Ishaq go to Notre Dame. Shaun Williams is the Doug Gotleib of SU football he just does it behind closed doors.

  24. Anybody know of anywhere to watch the game Smith is playing in?

  25. Never mind, just saw it!

  26. Cuse Don't Luse


  27. Look, all of us Cuse fans are upset but lashing out and accusing Ebo of being selfish, or a Me first guy, or saying its Shaun William’s fault are ridiculous, petty and childish. NO ONE is a bigger Cuse fan than me but here’s a little REALITY CHECK folks:

    — Cuse CANNOT Compete with ND & Clem when recruiting football players. If you’ve ever been to South Bend or Death Valley, or even watched a game on TV, you know that.

    The Orange play in a half empty dome and we’re ecstatic over wining the Pinstripe bowl, meanwhile those guys play in front of 80,000 rabid fans and for NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

    If you were a 17 year old kid where would you go???? If Syracuse is your answer you’re not being honest with yourself

    — I know Ebo very well and he works harder than ANYONE out there. Cuse lost a tremendous football player and Clemson got one. It sucks that other states keep stealing our top kids but we’re simply not good enuff to keep them home yet.

    — Shaun Williams did more than anyone will ever know to court him to syracuse. The guy isn’t a “Posse leader” or whatever absurd names you haters are hurling at him. He’s a guy who cares about the kids in his community and would love nothing more than to see city kids help build Cuse back to nat powerhouse we should be. and if you’re really keeping score Wayne Morgan and Augustus Edwards are also very tight with him so he’s actually 2-2

    — NO ONE is coming to Cuse when our HC is interviewing for NFL jobs…. NO ONE! especially not an elite player like Ebo. As close as we were in Ebo’s decision (very close) the Marrone Rumors were the final nail in the Cuse Coffin. Thats why Laray didnt commit tonite either. Until HCDM announces publicly that he’s staying we’re dead in the water with high quality recruits.

    And the longer it drags out the better chance other schools are gonna start recruiting our verbals too

  28. Dr. bill

    It would have been great to get Ebbo. But let’s face facts, Clemson is big time football and has an SEC like atmosphere…..Game day in Death Valley is a sight to see. the dome offers nothing close!!!!
    I am an SU alum….just calling it like I see it. Big time kids….want to play for big time programs….SU football is not seen as that now.
    You are 18, you have an opportunity to go to the Prom with your neighborhood girl….but suddenly you get invites from several super models….and Miss Universe, who do you go with? Tough choice No?

  29. Adam Williams huh!!

  30. Smitty Section 129

    If Adam is correct then everyone’s worse thoughts are correct in that Marrone not coming out and sayig publicly he is staying is hurting us. Marrone is a very smart man but yes it has surprised me he has not made a comment on this yet. Alot of college coaches pull their names from the NFL. If the nail in the coffin was Marrone entertaining the NFL that is something he may regret later as I really thought both of these guys would be lining up for SU next year.

  31. Orange FB fan

    Adam and Dr.Bill, I think we see eye to eye on this one. We as Orange fans(in my case Orange football) need to be realistic when it comes to the recruiting game. Maybe its because I’m slightly closer in age and urban background to the modern day NYC recruit, but I don’t think many of the people making negative remarks can relate to the recruits and their decision. The Orange are not a National powerhouse with the name value as some of the more prominent programs.

    Today’s HS JRs and SRs haven’t really seen Cuse during its winning years and heyday. The 5 star and 4 star recruits won’t typically consider the Orange…even if they are Northeast recruits. I like the fact that Marrone is attempting to attract the top guys from the city because even he he swings and misses on a Williams, a Jones or an Ogundeko, steadily improving the program with some Northeast(NYC in particular) kids may eventually land a prized local area guy. Then from their the Orange can eventually become a more prominent program. Until then, just be realistic. Its going to be hard to compete with certain schools and certain areas of the country.

    It doesn’t make a recruit a bad person because he chose not to come to Syracuse. He simply made a personal decision to go where he wanted to go. It just feels weird to see people talk about how he’s going to go down south and feel out of place or how he’ll have to struggle and compete for time. Well, so what? Maybe he becomes friends with a few guys on the team and feels incredibly comfortable down there. Or the fans embrace him with open arms. Maybe he battles and earns a role as a starter. We don’t know whats going to happen. I said it before, but this isn’t some multimillion dollar free agent that spurned your pro team. This is a kid from Brooklyn that chose to go away for school. Its his decision and it doesn’t directly impact our lives in any way. Lets kill the negativity and be the sophisticated fans that NYers are known to be.

  32. BronxBound

    Blame it all on GROSS, if…

    He didnt fire Coach P, Ray Rice would have worn Orange, and here we go again….

    NOW Deja Vu, GROSS does nothing to lock up Marrone during SU’s great run and key recruits are avoiding SU Football again.

    The cocky I am smarter than you attitude Gross exudes is poison!

    Gross WANTS MARRONE TO LEAVE because Marrone is getting all the kidos for getting SU back on track – GROSS WANTS TO BE THE GUY WHO GETS THE KUDOS, BIG PROBLEM!




  33. OrangeCrush27

    Adam – I agree with you 100%. My only thing with Ebo’s decision is that even though these are young adolescents they are smart. We can’t compete with ND or Clemson, but don’t get on national tv and tell me “it’s about business” ” Clemson is close to home” and ” I feel more comfortable there”. That’s just plain absurd. I don’t want moral victories. These kids absolutely know ‘cuse history, they know what we have fans have been through. I’m sure Shaun Williams (SU Alum) talks to them about what syracuse football is all about. But it’s time to be real. You have higher interest in Florida, Clemson, Notre dame, etc. don’t waste our time. We’ve had enough hopes and dreams dashed for the past 10 years. I wish Ebo the best, but the kids been a wild card throughout his recruiting process. Besides if the kid wanted to go to a school that was known for its engineering program like he stated…Clemson over ‘Cuse???

  34. Dr. bill

    Bronx bound….You are clueless, sorry to say, stop hating on Gross. If you knew anything about the economics of college sports, you would know that Dr. Gross has done more than his predecessors in enhancing Syracuse’s Economic profile. It takes big money to run sports especially at a Private school like the Cuse. He has raised big dollars. The fan base does not support the program by filling the Dome, yet, many stay home and complain!!!!!
    We are lucky to have a guy like Dr. Gross during this time and like Doug, he too may be looking for greener pastures as well. One thing is for sure, his work here at Syracuse, will give him the resume, to get a higher paying job…at a big time football school with lots of cash to spend and who’s fans pack out the stadium…and support their team…maybe he joins Ebo at Clemson!!!!!!!

  35. If playing in front of 80,000 fans was a factor than East Carolina should have a better football team than it does.
    I don’t think that SU is a basketball school, it’s more a function of being horrendous for 10 years at football. We live in a society that demands action yesterday when in reality….. Listen Marrone will be back Cuse will update there facilities , now everyone grab a safety harness while walking on that edge!!!!!

  36. I cant believe so many of you think that Shaun Williams is to fault for EBO’s choice to not come here. You know what also might have been a problem (aside from Clemson having a better program at the moment), The awful fans that decide to only come out when there is something to complain about. And guess what its not only EBO you idiots are driving off our coach who has done great things here is trying to get out too. We have the biggest bandwagon fanbase in the world so how about you all shut up and support the team for once!!!

  37. Now that Ebo has bolted from any Syracuse connection,you can expect Laray to do the same.The pgram is now unstable with Marrone taking interviews that will lead to a big change in the coming season. Ne head coach and assistants.Once he announces his departure the feeding will begin on our current list of commits.

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  1. [...] Ogundeko spurning Syracuse is still a moral victory [...]

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