Dino Babers has had success at both poaching recruits while also fending off potential predators. Now, he’s encroaching on an entire school. On June 21, Babers offered three players, two of which were Texas Tech commits and the third committed to the Red Raiders the next day. As of now, Maverick McIvor, Tony Bradford Jr. and Keeyon Stewart all remain committed to Tech.
All three players hail from Texas, like the rest of Texas Tech’s recruiting class. The Lone Star State has not been a place that Babers has recruited heavily. SU only has three players on its roster from Texas. One is quarterback Chance Amie, who Babers sniped out of the Houston Cougar’s clutch on signing day, defensive end Alton Robinson, but he came from junior college, and Koda Martin, who is a Texas A&M grad transfer and son of an Syracuse coach.
However, that could all be changing. Martin’s father, Kirk, is now the quarterback’s coach for the Orange and hails from Texas. He was a successful high school coach in Texas and surely still has strong ties to plenty of high schools and coaches in the state. Both Bradford Jr. and Stewart played about half an hour away from Martin’s school, Manvel High School. Along with that, Babers has spent plenty of time in Texas as an assistant with Baylor and Texas A&M.
We have seen Babers have plenty of success funneling Florida prospects to SU, which is good given it’s the state with the most pros. Texas is another powerhouse coming in at third in NFL products. We have seen so many schools in both states have success by recruiting in their own backyards. If Syracuse can continue to pick up players from both, Babers will continue to bolster his program.
Now while all three players remain committed to Texas Tech and there has not been a coaching turnover, which is a common reason for a player to reopen their recruitment, that doesn’t mean the three are stone cold locks to remain in Lubbock. Verbal commitments are non-binding until national letters of intent are signed in either mid-December or early February.
If the three are drawn to the name brand program, Texas Tech is the no-brainer. While the Red Raiders have been hot and cold in recent memory, they have been a dominant program for nearly the entirety of these kids lives, including eleven straight bowl appearances, beginning at the turn of the century. But maybe the fast-paced offense entices some of the offensive prospects, or the Clemson and Virginia Tech upsets turned them on to Babers’ charisma. Regardless, here’s what you need to know about the prospects who could back out of their Red Raider commitments.
Maverick McIvor – QB
Does Dino know something? McIvor is just a three star quarterback, but that’s what Tommy DeVito was before he exploded onto the scene. McIvor is a bit different than the Orange’s QB of the future. He’s a dual-threat signal caller who had a number of high-caliber Power Five offers. But McIvor may see the writing on the wall at SU with DeVito seemingly eating up the first three years of McIvor’s eligibility and Chance Amie with an extra year of experience under his belt to learn the complex offense.
Tony Bradford Jr. – DE
Unlike McIvor’s situation, the defensive side of the ball is wide open. Syracuse had the 15th fewest sacks country, which is largely due to inconsistent defensive line availability and performance. Is Bradford Jr. the answer to all of that? Likely not. He has the lowest rating amongst the Tech commits, per 247Sports. But having the added depth certainly can’t hurt. However, his 6-foot frame is on the shorter side for a defensive end.
Keeyon Smith – CB
Smith is a talented three star athlete that can be more than just a cornerback. He runs a 4.4 40 yard dash and can play anywhere in the secondary as well as at wide receiver. But on top of that, he can contribute on special teams as a returner. This flexibility is exactly what SU coaches love, as evidenced by guys like Allen Stritzinger and Antwan Cordy who can both play on each side of the ball. His combination of skill, versatility and speed certainly would be an asset under Babers.