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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.

-D.A.

* * *

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

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

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