Tyrone Sampson’s verbal commitment to the Orange certainly makes the Dino Babers era feel different. SU isn’t used to getting high profile prospects in recent memory, but Babers addition of Sampson, as well as Class of 2017 quarterback Tommy DeVito, proves that the second year head coach has some pull across the recruiting landscape. Babers has done this by targeting areas that previously have been unchartered territory. We’ve seen the Orange recently dip its toe in the international pool by targeting a handful of Canadian players, but in the States, Babers has been recruiting hard in Michigan.
Before Babers’ arrival, the Orange had just three players from the Great Lake State on its roster, but since Babers has arrived, he’s already added five, and you can make a case for six if you count Eric Coley who spent the bulk of his high school career at Portage Northern High School in Michigan. That exceeds the Oranges entire haul of Michigan native recruits since 2003. One of the main breeding grounds for talent is coming out of Cass Tech High School which has produced a top two player in the state every year since 2012, with those players attending elite football programs like Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Starting next year, Syracuse will have two players from Cass Tech on its roster, most notably freshman-to-be defensive end Zach Morton.
While Michigan may not be looked at as a football powerhouse state, it’s one that is on the rise. Some of its recent NFL products are Kirk Cousins, Antonio Gates and Allen Robinson. Along with that, the University of Michigan owns eight of the state’s top ten Class of 2017 recruits. While it’s very common to recruit in house, we are talking about a Jim Harbaugh-led Wolverines program that can have its pick at any player in the country. Harbaugh also knows that he needs the country’s elite talent in order to uphold the Michigan standard.
With the nationalization of college football, fewer players are starting to feel the need to play close to home and more look for national TV exposure. With the arrival of the ACC Network in 2019, that certainly will start to favor the Orange over a lot of mid-major schools.
Babers has proven to be quirky in his early tenure through his many sayings and his unorthodox offense, but so far, it mostly seems progressive. Only time will tell to see if his recruiting antics pan out, but if they do, the Orange could return to national prominence sooner rather than later.