11:00 PM – The Signing Day Sportscenter Special
Thank you for reading all day long. Here’s an hour long special from the Fizz crew detailing SU’s 2016 recruiting class with sound from 16/18 commits. -CM
9:20 – Tim Walton Commit Interview
The Fizz talked to Tim Walton, a Syracuse linebacker commit from Detroit, about his future with the Orange.
When asked what he wanted to be remembered as after his time at Syracuse was done, Walton said, “I want people to remember me as a player, but not only just a great, phenomenal player, but a great student athlete. I want to be remembered as a player who gave his all on and off the field.“
8:40 PM – Plant HS Coach talks with The Fizz
Plant High School Head Coach Robert Weiner is sending two players to SU in the class of 2016. The Fizz asked him for the scoop on Scoop Bradshaw and Rex Culpepper.
First up, Scoop, Weiner says he has special skills and that Scoop played both sides of the ball as well as returned kicks and punts. But he said the main thing you get out of Scoop is that he is a kid who has an edge on the field.
As for Culpepper, Coach Weiner says he is “a young man who has never made anything but an A in his life as a student. A kid who is an eagle scout. A kid who two years went to a camp for kids with muscular dystrophy with me. And a kid who can play 7 musical instruments. A kid who if your car breaks down, he can take the whole motor out and fix it… Honestly, never in my life have I met a kid who is more of the total package than this kid.”
8:35 PM – Devon Clarke Commit Interview
Clarke was honored to commit to the school that rejected him earlier on in the cycle: “It feels good to get accepted by the school I wanted to go to…When the new staff came in they were still recruiting me hard… even though they left Bowling Green.”
Syracuse’s newest safety says he may be asked to play right away: “Coach Monroe told me to be ready to play early when I get up there.” -CM
7:30 PM – Devin Butler Commit Interview
The Maryland wide receiver spoke with the Fizz this evening after signing on earlier today. Listen to the complete interview here.
Butler was very anxious to sign his LOI this morning. “My first tweet this morning was where the pen at? I couldn’t wait to actually sign. I had to wait until seven o’clock…I just wanted everything to be finally over because I felt like Syracuse was my home.”
The wide receiver says he has a special bond with Coach Babers: “He calls all of his wide receivers his babies so when he called me his baby I felt really special. It sounded weird at first, but I was like, I could get the hang of it…He’s going to keep me on the right path.” -CM
6:55 PM – Jaquwan Nelson Has A Point To Prove
Fort Lauderdale High School football coach Richard Dunbar spoke with the Fizz about his former defensive lineman Jaquwan Nelson. Listen to the complete interview here.
Coach Dunbar thought he had a special talent from Nelson’s freshman season: “From day one we all knew he was going to be a top tier athlete in the country.”
Nelson’s coach explained that Jaquwan has had a tough upbringing: “He lost his mother at a very early age…They were very close. She was like his best friend…For Jaquwan it has been a struggle for him, even to this day. There are days where he’s still thinking and he may shed some tears here or there…I would like to think that she is part of his motivation.”
That motivation has turned Nelson into a menace on the field, even against his own team sometimes: *Laughing* “We put the red jersey on him sometimes at practice to make him sit out just so we could practice. The guy is a special talent.”
As for the race between SU, Georgia and Kentucky, Dunbar says there really wasn’t much to that: “His heart was always set on Syracuse once he committed…I think the deciding factor was that in additon to having a coaching staff that Coach Babers has put together…he’s up there with guys that he feels he was a very strong bond with.” -CM
5:50 PM – Old Faces Pt. 4
Some more news from a couple of players who won’t be joining the Orange next season. Devaughn Cooper, who was already committed to Arizona, reaffirmed that decision today. Along with Arizona, Cooper was also considering Syracuse and Arizona State. Cooper didn’t have a Syracuse hat on the table at his decision, which Stephen Bailey was quick to point out.
Drew Beesley was another one of the former Bowling Green commits Dino Babers and the Orange was going after, but today he announced he’d be joining Michigan State as a preferred walk on. The defensive end was listed as a two-star recruit on scout.com. – ND
5:30 PM – Evan Foster Commit Interview
Evan Foster, a Michigan defensive back, took a few minutes after signing his Letter of Intent to talk to the Fizz’s Connor Morrissette. Foster was originally committed to Dino Babers’s Bowling Green class, and then followed Babers from the Falcons to the Orange. You can listen to the full interview here.
Foster told the Fizz he was happy that the recruiting process was finally over. “It feels great because it just puts everything away… Now I just focus on getting ready to come up there and try to compete for a starting job.”
Aside from landing a starting spot, Foster said his other goals as a freshman were “to become more comfortable with the staff and the players and try to make it feel like home.” -ND
4:55 PM – Dino Babers Addresses The Media at SU’s Football Facility
Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers addressed the press as his first National Signing Day at Syracuse wound down. He assessed his first recruiting class and said that “the football staff should be commended” for the way they brought this class together. He echoed an interview he gave earlier today stressing the importance of building both the offensive and defensive lines and that the this year’s class has to be partnered with the 2017 class.
What Babers really laid out during his press conference was his vision for the future and his philosophy that he applies to this program. The words honest, family and gospel were repeated during the press conference. Babers stressed that when looking for players he tries to recruit “entire football teams” and that he is not just looking for the best players but also players who are “students of the game”. Earlier in the day, Babers used the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle when referring to this year’s and next year’s class. SU’s head man said that his staff is, as of today, working on the 2017 class.
Babers wrapped things up by talking about the team that he already had. He said that he was pleased with the attitude of the players on the roster and that they are hungry and desperate to win again. -LG
4:40 PM – Andrew Armstrong Commit Interview
Andrew Armstrong was originally committed to Bowling Green, but followed his head coach Dino Babers to Syracuse. The two-star linebacker is a two-time All-Ohio Division IV first-team selection. The full interview can be heard here.
On following Babers to Syracuse, Armstrong said, “I’m super excited to be playing for them…it’s a dream come true to be playing Division I football, especially in a program like Syracuse.”
On his relationship with Babers, Armstrong said, “He’s a great guy, he made me feel like I want to be a part of that program…I have a ton of respect for him.” – JW
3:45 PM – Where Does SU’s Class Rank?
Dino Babers has only been head coach for a few months, but boy have things turned around quickly. With just a few months to recruit players amidst a turnstile of decommitments, Babers has worked his class into the top 60 in the country. Scout currently ranks Syracuse’s class as the 59th-best in the country. This includes 19 three star players, one un-starred player, and no four-or-five star players. In Scout’s ACC rankings, the Orange comes in at tenth, ahead of Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Boston College. Those four teams rank anywhere from 62nd to 69th in the country. According to Scout, the average signed commit for SU averages 2.95 stars, right behind Virginia Tech which is averaging 3.0 stars.
Comparatively, 247 has Syracuse’s recruiting class ranked 64th in the country. This, like Scout, includes 19 three star players and an un-starred player. 247 ranks Moe Neal (ATH), Sam Heckel (OL), and Jaquwan Nelson (DE) as the best players in the class. The Orange falls below Georgia Tech, Virginia, and even Wake Forest in this list, although it still holds an advantage over Boston College. -JW
3:40 PM – Michael Clark Commit Interview
Michael Clark was originally committed to play for the Maryland Terrapins, but instead found himself signing with the Orange. The three-star offensive lineman has great size at 6-foot-7 and pencils in at an area of need for the offense. He just spoke with the Fizz about his commitment – the full interview can be heard here.
About his size, Clark said, “With my length…it really helps me with pass protection. With my reach, it’s hard to D-ends to get to the inside and get control, because I’m always on them first.”
On flipping his commitment to the Orange, Clark said, “They offered me right when I walked in the door and that was huge for me because Syracuse is my dream school.” – JW
3:23 PM – Robert Washington’s Announcement
Robert Washington has made his decision. The former Syracuse commit (and savior, the way people were talking) has signed his Letter of Intent to play at Charlotte. This decision comes about a week after he took an official visit to Alabama. He also had offers from Pitt, East Carolina and UNC. – LG
2:50 PM – Rutgers Update
Looking at one of Syracuse’s “rivals” in the northeast, Rutgers has had some trouble keeping its commits. Wide Receiver Taysir Mack decommited and is heading to Indiana, tight end Korab Idrizi is instead heading to Boston College. Other than those, Rutgers has brought in who they thought they would sign. Honestly, the class looks similar to Syracuse’s, if only a little smaller. The Scarlet Knights have just 14 signees so far according to rivals.com, and 10 of the 14 are three star recruits. So basically, Rutgers is recruiting at a 3-star level, much like Syracuse at this point. Also note, new Head Coach Chris Ash was reported as a target at Syracuse before eventually taking the job at Rutgers. -SG
2:33 PM – Former Syracuse Commit Robert Washington to Make Decision at 3pm
Robert Washington made headlines in Syracuse and across the nation when he committed to SU back in April of 2015. At the time, Washington was a four-star recruit and a top-ten running back in the class of 2016. Since then, Washington has decommitted from Syracuse and seen his stock fall drastically. Washington is set to make his decision at 3pm, according to Ross Smith, who covers the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for ninernation.net. Charlotte is the apparent front-runner for the Syracuse decommit. –LG
2:00 PM – Dino Babers Speaks Publically About Recruiting Class
Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers spoke to Scout.com and to ESPN2 about his first recruiting class at Syracuse. He gave his general thoughts on the class saying that SU “came out with a very good class”. The Orange’s head man talked about one of the biggest recruits that Syracuse landed today, Jaquwan Nelson, saying that it was “a heck of a recruiting battle”. For more information on Nelson, keep it here as we will be talking to his High School Head Coach, Richard Dunbar, later today.
Babers also addressed what he was looking for in this class, stressing that he went after “guys in the trenches”. He also said that going forward, the Orange will be targeting New York recruits first, and work their way south next targeting New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Babers stressed that this is a process and that it may take a couple of years to build the program back up. He said “the 2015 recruiting class is like a jigsaw puzzle with the 2017 class.” Babers will address the media at Syracuse University at 4 o’clock this afternoon. The Fizz will have all of the press conference coverage. –LG
1:45 PM – Where is the Class From?
With a new coaching staff in place, the recruiting class of 2016 looks a bit different than other classes have under both Doug Marrone and Scott Shafer. Dino Babers is coming from a program deeply tied to Midwest recruiting, and that became apparent quickly in Central New York. Of the 20 players that signed letters of intent, a dominant number have come from the Midwest. Carl Jones and Andrew Armstrong are from Ohio, Kedall Coleman is from Indianapolis, Tim Walton is from Detroit, and Jo-El Shaw is from Pittsburgh. Evan Foster, Liam O’Sullivan, and Josh Black are all from Illinois, while Sam Heckel and Airon Servais are from Wisconsin. If you’re keeping count, that’s ten players – half of the class – from the region.
Like Syracuse coaching staffs of old, the Orange also relied heavily upon Florida, which has become a pipeline for the school. Florida dominated the recruiting class last season, and it has a strong presence once again this year. Rex Culpepper and teammate Scoop Bradshaw both attended Plant High School in Tampa, while teammates Kenneth Ruff and McKinley Williams, as well as Jaquwan Nelson, are all from Fort Lauderdale. Devon Clarke is the sixth player from Florida. It should be noted that flipped linebacker Rashad Smith is also from the state and opted to play for a school significantly closer to home. Aside from the players listed above, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are also represented in the class of 2016. -JW
1:30 PM – Jo-El Shaw’s Head Coach George Novak Talks Up His Running Back
Woodland Hills (PA) head coach George Novak had a lot of positive words to say on his former running back Jo-El Shaw. Novak called Shaw an, “outstanding running back,” and went on to say that he’s a power runner with a good spin move.
Shaw dominated in the backfield this past season alongside Penn State commit Miles Sanders, a 5-star recruit. They led Woodlands Hills to an 11-1 record.
SU’s latest recruit also played three years of varsity basketball at Woodlands Hills.
1:03 PM – Scott Frost/UCF Update
Former Oregon Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost was a candidate for Syracuse’s head coaching vacancy but decided to take the University of Central Florida job instead. Like Shafer, Frost has been able to pry away a couple of Syracuse’s targets.
3-star running backs Adrian Killins and Jawon Hamilton have both signed letters of intent to play for Scott Frost at UCF. Both Killins and Hamilton received offers from Syracuse in early January and took official visits within the past two weeks. It is important to point out that it was always going to be an uphill battle for Babers because both of the backs are from Florida. Hamilton was originally committed to the University of Miami before reopening his commitment in January. –LG
12:55 PM – Sean Riley and Coach Manny Douglas Fizz Commit Interview
As you read below, Sean Riley was the most recent and perhaps final player to his LOI for Syracuse today. He spoke with the Fizz minutes ago along with his coach Manny Douglas.
Riley thinks the Babers’ offense is perfect for him: I believe I’ll fit perfectly in the offense…He wants to utilize me in the slot and at running back too.”
The California halfback also mentioned that he is in the dark as to where his teammate wide receiver DeVaughn Cooper will commit later today.
As for Coach Douglas, he is familiar with Babers’ coaching style and shared some insight with the Fizz: “His kids are going to be on point. The one thing about him is that he’s a good guy and I would say he’s a player’s coach, but he doesn’t play around.” –CM
12:10 PM – Scott Shafer Pulling Recruits to Maryland After Targeting Them At SU
Former Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer is now the defensive coordinator at Maryland and he has pulled a few players Syracuse had its eye on away from the Hill and to College Park. Below, we updated you on Elijah and Elisha Daniels who had an offer from Syracuse but elected to go to Maryland. Both brothers are three-star defensive backs and certainly would have been a welcome additions to Syracuse’s 2016 class.
Syracuse was also eyeing 3-star all-purpose back Tyrek Tisdale from Orlando, Florida. However, like the Daniels brothers, Tisdale signed with Scott Shafer’s new team and will play football and the University of Maryland. -LG
11:47 AM – Sean Riley Signs
Good morning on the West Coast! The final verbal commitment in the class of 2016, athlete Sean Riley, has faxed in his letter of intent. Riley becomes the 20th signee in the class, which came together rather quickly for new head coach Dino Babers and his recruiting staff. Riley is a three-star player out of California, and he attended the same school as DeVaughn Cooper, a target for SU who will be announcing his decision later today. Riley flipped to the Orange from Arizona. This means that Rashad Smith, who signed with FAU after flip-flopping, is the only player who didn’t sign with SU who had verbally committed coming into today. – JW
11:42 AM – Sam Heckel Commit Interview
Heckel initially committed to Syracuse when Scott Shafer was SU’s coach. He stuck with the program for one major reason: “Dino’s group is a great group of coaches…They win wherever they go.”
The o-lineman says that the members of SU’s 2016 class were all talking following Jaquwan Nelson’s commitment: “When Jaquwan signed, that was big. We were all excited about that. It’s all Orange today.” -CM
11:14 AM – West Coast Update
With all-but-one Letter Of Intent signed and faxed in, Sean Riley is the last verbal commitment yet to sign with SU. He’s from California so there isn’t anything to worry about…yet. Orange fans should still keep an eye on California wide receiver DeVaughn Cooper, who is currently verbally committed to Arizona. Cooper will announce his college decision at 4:30 p.m., east coast time, and will decide between the Wildcats, rival Arizona State, and the Orange. He is a three-star receiver who visited campus with high-school teammate Riley, who also happened to flip to Syracuse from Arizona. If there is anyone who can convince Cooper to come to SU, it’s definitely Riley. The Arizona schools are much closer to home for Cooper, and the weather is certainly better, but hey anything can happen. We’ll check in with Cooper’s decision later this afternoon. – JW
10:53 AM – Old Faces Pt. 3
It’s not all smiles on National Signing Day, as plenty of former Orange verbal commitments from the Scott Shafer era find themselves elsewhere. Lindsey Scott, a recent decommitment, finds himself at LSU now after signing his letter of intent. Taylor Riggins, a local product from Rochester, signed with UMass instead of Babers’ Orange. Three-star defensive back Monquavion Brinson signed with Georgia Southern, while linebacker Jonathan Jones, a player who visited SU but did not commit, will suit up for the Fighting Irish next season. Ex ‘Cuse commit Dymelle Parker has just signed with Towson. Last week’s target Stewart Reese signed with Mississippi State today, while former safety target Eric Burrell signed with Wisconsin. SU was a finalist for both of these players. – JW
10:46 AM – Carl Jones Commit Interview
Defensive back Carl Jones certainly has some motivation. After seeing teammates recruited by powerhouse and blue blood programs like Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame, Jones got just three D-I offers, with Syracuse being the only one in a Power-5 conference. Jones also talks about what he is looking forward to most about heading to SU, the answer may surprise you. Listen here. -SG
10: 35 AM – SU’s Big Win, Jaquwan Nelson Commits
After a little bit of a delay, Fort Lauderdale defensive end Jaquwan Nelson has faxed his letter of intent in and is officially a Syracuse signee. Nelson put his signing on delay after receiving some attention from the Georgia Bulldogs leading into today. Nelson originally decomitted from the Miami Hurricanes. The three-star player ranks as the 54th best weak-side defensive end. He verbally committed to Syracuse a little over a week ago. Defensive end will prove to be a weakness based solely on the depth chart, so Nelson and the three other defensive line signees will have an early opportunity to contribute in 2016. Nelson’s commitment was the one most up-in-the-air, so retaining him is a huge win for Babers. – JW
10:25 AM – Liam O’Sullivan Commit Interview
O’Sullivan signed his LOI earlier this morning. The Fizz spoke with him after he sent in his paperwork.
SU is the right fit for the lineman: “I really liked the coaches, the facilities, the program in general. I thought it was best for me. I could see myself there.”
O’Sullivan is happy the recruiting process is over: “Some coaches they lie to you…Coach Babers and his staff have always been completely honest with me, that was always there thing.” -CM
10:12 AM – Devin Butler Joins the Orange
The signees just keep coming. Now Maryland wide receiver Devin Butler tweets that he has signed with the Orange. Butler is a 3-star commit with offers coming in from Maryland and North Carolina. He is a high school quarterback who is expected to make the move to receiver. Butler will also be a part of the track team at SU. -SG
10:01 AM – Jo-El Shaw Signs
Jo-El Shaw has signed with Syracuse. A 3-star running back from Pittsburgh, Shaw also had offers from Pitt, Temple, Kansas and Bowling Green. Shaw had previously been a Western Michigan commit; he had a very close relationship with Mike Hart. When Hart took a job at SU, Shaw was one of the first people contacted. He verbally committed to Syracuse when he took his official visit in January. -SG
9:55 AM – Rashad Smith Flips
Rashad Smith has flipped his commitment back to FAU. The safety had been verbally committed to joining the Orange but this morning instead signed a National Letter of Intent to go play for the Owls. Smith is from Homestead, Florida, which is about an hour and a half south of the Florida Atlantic campus. This could just be a case of wanting to stay closer to home for the 3-star safety. Smith had just committed to Syracuse on January 24th after taking his official visit to SU, he had originally been committed to FAU. So basically, this has been a big game of back and forth for the last few weeks, and Smith has bounced from FAU, to SU and now back to FAU, this time for good. -SG
9:50 AM – Airon Servais Interview
Dino Babers’ first commit signed with the Orange this morning. He spoke with the Fizz about his excitement for playing at SU.
Servais accomplished a goal today: “It just feels amazing. To be able to sign with a Division One program on a full scholarship has been a dream ever since the start of playing football.”
He added that he owes a lot of his scholarship to his mother: “Just to have my mom sitting next to me, it meant so much. She’s sacrificed so much and done so much for me during the recruiting process with getting me to camps and my visits.” -CM
9:30 AM – Kendall Coleman Interview
Indiana defensive end Kendall Coleman signed his LOI earlier this morning. He spoke with the Fizz about his commitment minutes ago.
He told the Fizz: “There’s a little bit of a shortage of guys at my position at Syracuse, so I might be on the field early, we’ll see.”
Coleman also said he was ecstatic to sign: “I was talking to some of my friends earlier and I can’t stop smiling. It’s a euphoric feeling.” -CM
8:40 AM – More Signees
Michigan linebacker Tim Walton and Wisconsin offensive lineman Airon Servais just faxed in their LOI’s. Walton flipped from Illinois earlier this cycle. Servais was Dino Babers’ first commit. He followed the staff from Bowling Green.
Listen to an interview the Fizz conducted with Servais a few weeks ago here. -CM
8:23 AM – Old Faces Pt. 2
As expected, SU just received LOI’s from Sam Heckel, Liam O’Sullivan, Evan Foster, Joshua Black and Scoop Bradshaw.
In terms of old faces, the Daniels twins, a Florida defensive back duo who were down to Maryland and SU, signed with Maryland today. They committed to the Terps before visiting the Hill.
Ex ‘Cuse h-back commit Darius Stubbs has signed his Letter of Intent to play at Georgia State and former Orange target WR Dez Fitzpatrick has signed for Louisville. -CM
8:10 AM – Old Faces Pt. 1
In early January Syracuse was extremely high on 2016 running back Jawon Hamilton. The Florida native told the Fizz he was deciding between UCF and Syracuse at the time. He took an official visit to Central Florida the next weekend and committed on the spot. He signed his letter of intent to play for Scott Frost minutes ago.
PA d-lineman Noel Brouse initially committed to Villanova after decommitting from SU following the coaching change. Today he’ll sign with UConn along with former Syracuse o-lineman commit Cam DeGeorge. -CM
7:45 AM – Storylines
So far this morning Carl Jones, McKinley Williams, Devon Clarke, Kendall Coleman, Michael Clark, and Andrew Armstrong have all signed their Letters of Intent to play at SU. Twelve more players are expected to sign today. One recruit to watch is 3-star Florida defensive back Jaquwan Nelson. He’s committed to SU, but visited Georgia last week. Other guys who still might be considering the Orange are Florida running back Adrian Killins, Michigan corner Marquis Smith and Missouri defensive end Dirion Hutchins, a Bowling Green commit. -CM