If the first two years of the Dino Babers era has taught us anything it’s that his offense makes Syracuse wide receivers look really, really good. In year one, it was unheralded grad-transfer Amba Etta-Tawo, who finished in the top 10 nationally in receiving yards and suddenly went from a little-known wide-out at Maryland to someone who would later earn some time in the NFL. Then with Etta-Tawo gone, many questioned who would fill his production void heading into year two of the Babers era. But, those concerns quickly looked silly when senior Steve Ishmael proceed to also finish in the top ten in receiving yards in the country and earn himself a spot on the Biletnikoff award watch list (given to the nations top wide receiver), just like Etta-Tawo. Not to mention, slot speedsters like Brisly Estime and Erv Philips have both received NFL attention after putting up eye-popping numbers while playing for Babers and his high-tempo offense.
Sure it’s a small sample size, but the point is simple: Syracuse wide receivers have undoubtedly benefited from Dino Babers presence in the past two years and high school recruits are starting to take notice.
Just look at this past recruiting cycle. In the 2018 class, five of SU’s 19 commits are wide receivers (if you count Kevin Johnson Jr. who was a late add). The year before that, wide receivers was also the deepest position in the 2017 class. Not to mention, Babers and SU were also able to persuade highly touted JUCO tight end Ravian Pierce to take his talents to Central New York.
I’m not saying the Orange should be known as “Wide Receiver U” right now, but it’s certainly trending in that direction and SU should certainly try to keep that train moving.
For starters, it would give the program something to claim and be known for and right now there frankly isn’t that much you could say that about. Also, wide receiver is one of, if not, the flashiest position in football. Some of the biggest names in the NCAA each year are wide receivers. With that in mind, having some headliners at the receiver position helps attract attention to your program about as much as any position outside of quarterback would.
On top of that, it could be used as a stepping stone to help give this program the rebuild its been fighting to get for far too long. Think about Boston College, which is a football program like Syracuse. The Eagles have struggled in the ACC recently but are starting to find their way into bowl games more consistently and part of the reason has been improved recruiting at the running back position for BC. Ever since Andre Williams flirted with the heisman trophy and helped establish that brand of football in Chestnut Hill, BC has used that as a recruiting pitch.
I’m not saying wide receiver is the most valuable position on the football field. It’s far from it. However, it’s the best recruiting pitch Syracuse has right now and if the Orange can convince a big name wideout to come it will help give the program an identity and could lead to a trickle-down effect that has long-term implications.