Even though Syracuse topped North Carolina in a double-overtime nail-biter on Saturday, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the Orange and it seems like most of them remain on the defensive side of the ball.
After giving up more than 300 yards of rushing against both Clemson and Pitt in its prior two games, SU improved slightly this weekend when the defense allowed just 200 yards on the ground against the Tar Heels. That’s obviously still not where you’d like the run D to be, but luckily for SU fans, the Orange offered a pair of talented defensive prospects over the last week that could help stop the ground game in the future.
Payton Page (Class of 2021)
Page (pictured above) won’t be able to help Syracuse right away because he’s still got two more years of high school football to play after this season, but if he does decide to make the trek up to Central New York, SU is getting a special talent at defensive tackle. The Greensboro, NC native is a five-star prospect according to 247 Sports who also rates Page as a top-20 overall recruit in his class. He’s got excellent strength and power for someone so young and that’s only going to get better as his body matures and he gets older. That’s not to mention the fact that he’s also grown three inches in the last two years, so he could still easily continue to fill out his already massive 6-foot-3, 280-pound frame. Right now most of his game is focused on simply being bigger and stronger than everyone else, but the finesse and technique will come with more time and coaching. He has all the tools to be a dominant interior lineman and his theoretical future commitment would come at the perfect time for SU because 10 of the 14 defensive linemen currently on SU’s roster will have graduated by the time Page would come to CNY. Obviously when a guy is as talented and physically gifted as Page, it’s going to be difficult to steal him away from some of the best programs in the country and it’ll be no different with the Dudley High School product. Page already has offers from Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia.
Octavius Brothers Jr. (Class of 2019)
Even though they looked much better against the Tar Heels than they usually do on Saturday, the linebacking corps has undoubtedly been the weakness of the Syracuse defense this year. However, a guy like Brothers could be a real depth booster for the Orange in the years to come. The Southwest Brevard County, FL native checks in as a three-star outside linebacker according to 247 Sports, but the most interesting part of his recent story isn’t that the Orange offered him, but rather what happened just one day later. Brothers was originally committed to play for a surging UCF program, but after SU and UNC offered him on Wednesday, Brothers decommitted from the Knights on Thursday and reopened his recruitment.
Decommitted ✍🏾 … pic.twitter.com/j9cNvVngkK
— Octavius Brothers Jr 8️⃣ (@Blvd_4) October 19, 2018
His best skill right now is his ability to pursue ball carriers laterally in the open field, using his speed and athleticism to cover sideline to sideline, but he also shows great hands and ball skills when he drops back into coverage. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, his frame is going to need to fill out a bit for him to be really effective at the next level, but he certainly flashes some intriguing tools.