8:55 pm. -Fizz Roundtable Discussion Breaking Down Syracuse’s Early Signing Day
The Fizz’s JD Raucci, Drew Carter and Tyler Aki break down the entire day’s news with sounds and reaction from Syracuse’s Class of 2019, including the best things Dino Babers said, complete player-by-player breakdowns and what to look for on the road ahead.
7:57 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 10 – Mikel Jones
The top-rated recruit in Syracuse’s class of 2019, Mikel Jones is one of the newer additions to SU’s list of signees. The four-star linebacker out of Hialeah, FL committed to the Orange just under a month ago on November 21st when Syracuse was well into its impressive 9-3 season.
“I think their success did I have an impact on my decision this year because I saw that they were doing good. I wouldn’t say it had a huge impact, but the fact that they were having a good season definitely impacted my decision because I wouldn’t want to go as much [if they weren’t]. Let’s say Syracuse was like 1-9, the decision would have been a little harder because I would want to be heading to a place that’s headed in the right direction, not the wrong direction.”
He added that Syracuse’s commitment throughout his recruiting process was also a huge factor in his decision.
“Coach [Nick] Monroe has been a huge part of my recruiting process since my sophomore year. Every time I would think of a top school in my head, Syracuse was always in that stop school [conversation]. As far as loyalty with me, it means a lot, so for him to stay consistent throughout the whole process — because there have been some coaches who haven’t been there consistently throughout the whole process — I feel like that meant a lot in my process too.”
Listen to the rest of Jones’ interview here:
7:39 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 9 – Luke Benson
Any time a tight end is the fastest dude on the field, hauls in long touchdowns up the seam, and wears No. 87, the first guy that comes to mind is Rob Gronkowski. If 2019 Syracuse commit Luke Benson said he modeled his game after the Patriots’ GOAT, it wouldn’t be outrageous. But Benson — a native of Doylestown, PA, and a huge Eagles fan — emulates someone else.
“I do love Gronk, but we’re not exactly the same body type. My favorite tight end is actually Zach Ertz.”
Again, don’t scoff at the comparison. Benson is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and scorches the turf to the tune of a 10.87 100m dash. He’s got “Want to see me run to the end zone and back? Want to see me do it again?” level wheels. But Benson isn’t singularly focused on reeling in long scores; he knows that the best tight ends are multi-dimensional. The speedster takes as much pride in blocking as he does in receiving, and that could earn him a healthy helping of snaps as a freshman.
“I talked to Coach Ferri and Coach Babers and they kind of tell me: you earn what you get. So I’m just excited to get up there and earn my time wherever I fit, whether it’s special teams or offense. I’ll wait my turn if need be or I’m ready to go if need be.”
Ravian Pierce is the Orange’s only tight end who’s seen consistent playing time this season, and the Camping World Bowl will be the senior’s final game at SU. The door may be open for Benson to contribute right away, á la Andre Cisco and Tril Williams but on the other side of the ball.
Benson committed all the way back in June, long before Syracuse broke through with its best season since 2001. To hear Benson reveal the way Dino Babers convinced him to buy in, click here for our full conversation:
5:03 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 8 – Matthew Bergeron
No matter how gaudy the skill position players’ numbers are, the front five forms the foundation of an offense. So while it’s fun to daydream about electric wideouts like Courtney Jackson torching secondaries and dynamic linebackers like Lee Kpogba wreak havoc in backfields, it’s important to remember the hogs. Syracuse’s 2019 class features a few of them, including Quebec City native Matthew Bergeron.
“I think my biggest strength is I have great feet. I have quick feet and I’m athletic for an O-lineman.”
That bodes extremely well for Dino Babers’ high-octane offense. Bergeron’s tape suggests that he’s nimble for a brick house of a man, and his comments back it up. He also played basketball in high school — prayers up for the dudes who had to box out this 6-foot-5, 280-pound hoss — and believes that will help him keep up, which sometimes proves hard for big guys.
Bergeron is one of two Quebec City products in this year’s class — in fact, he was high school teammates with linebacker Geoff Cantin. The Cegep Garneau products will join Tyrell Richards, a Toronto native, in the Dome, a place where a plethora of Canadian basketball players have thrived, too. It seems like a pipeline is developing — and these dudes are just grateful for the opportunity.
“We are so excited to come down to the States. Us Canadians, we don’t have the chance like guys in the United States to have an offer to play college football, so we work our ass off to get to the next level.”
But Bergeron isn’t going to forget his roots. He was on the hunt for poutine when he visited campus.
“I didn’t find [any]. But Coach Lynch told me there was some in Syracuse so I can’t wait to get down there and get a taste of it… When Coach Lynch came down here, first thing I did: I made him eat some poutine and he liked it.”
Catch our full conversation with Bergeron, including a rapid fire Canada round, here:
5:00 p.m. 5 Best Things Dino Babers Said About the Class of 2019
At times, Early National Signing Day becomes all about the players. But let’s not forget about the coaches. Here are a few key points from Dino Babers’ press conference earlier today.
“Most of this class was done off of our 4-8 season and our win over Clemson, and the back part of our class was our 9-3 season and finishing second in the ACC Atlantic and with the rankings that we had that we haven’t had here in a long time. The first part of our 2019 class will be off our 9-3 season, and the second part of our 2019 class will be off of whatever we get done in the first half of the 2019 season.” ~Dino Babers discussed how this season can impact the caliber of players committing and signing with Syracuse football.
It is no surprise that a 9-3 season where a team is ranked and makes a bowl game for the first time in a while will spark excitement and interest. This includes interest in the eyes of high school football players deciding where to continue their playing careers in college football. But the effect of a good season won’t happen immediately. Babers said the first half of the recruiting class that is signing today was recruited before the 9-3 season happened; therefore, the recruiting for some of today’s signees was done based on the 2017 4-8 season with the upset win over defending national champion #2 Clemson. The second half of the class signing today was recruited with the 9-3 ranked-team season underway, and the excitement of this and the bowl game the Orange will play in later this month will carry over into the first half of recruiting for next year. Then, as 2019 play is underway, recruiting will begin to rely on the early 2019 performance. Remember that Babers previously explained that it will take about two more years for the effect of the 9-3 season to be seen on the field.
“We’re far away, yet we’re not that far away. We’re two fourth-quarter stops and two fourth-quarter touchdowns from having an unbelievable year. Now, of course, you can always flip that and say you won some close games, you know, you won some overtime games you could have lost, and that all comes out. The bottom line is we’re very competitive on the field where we are right now. We’re not as deep as we need to be to do the things that we want to do nationally consistently.” ~Dino Babers explained his view of the SU football program from where it was when he took over to where it is now.
Babers discussed “balancing the scales” of offensive-player and defensive-player recruitment, which he said was not balanced when he started with the Orange and will still take two more years to even out. Babers referred to this year’s Clemson and Pittsburgh losses (without specifically saying their names) and how close they were to being wins, which would have led to an “unbelievable” 11-1 season. He also pointed out there were close wins that could have been losses, referring to the two overtime win against North Carolina. In order to have consistency in great years like 2018 and then have the opportunity for unbelievable years like 2018 could have been, Babers says the focus has to be on having roster depth. This is so injuries at a position will not derail an entire program’s plan. You guessed it: this depth is achieved via recruiting.
“There’s a lot of public scrutiny about those guys going to certain places. And there’s got to be a special individual to step away and say that ‘I can see the vision, I can see the future, and this is where I want to go and be a part of it because we’re going to be blazing our own path and not necessarily following down the path that other people have already set.’” ~Dino Babers discussed the challenge of recruiting four- or five-star players.
One great season won’t get everyone to jump on the Babers train. There are thill other very competitive programs out there that have a reputation for success. Here, Babers not only explains the pressure four- and five-star athletes are under to choose these storied programs and the draw of those programs but also writes the script for one of those athletes to choose Syracuse. In Babers’ eyes, SU has a “blazing” new “vision” and inspiring “future.”
“We gotta make sure that we recruit somebody good enough that they can wear the 44 jersey. We’ll see. … As far as I know the 44 jersey’s not retired. … It’s not in circulation; I can agree with that. It’s not in circulation at the moment, so we’ll see.” ~Dino Babers responded to a question of whether he would consider allowing a highly-rated recruit to wear number 44.
Simply: “we’ll see.” It’s not out of the question if it means getting a very, very talented recruit.
“It’s a lot easier than the first year.” ~Dino Babers joked as he walked away from the podium at the end of the press conference. Meaning that the press conference was easier this year than when he first started with SU.
It’s a sign that the program is heading in the right direction. Accompanied by his recently-signed contract extension, Babers now not only can build for the future but also prepare the one to carry out the vision.
4:56 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 7 – Anthony Red
Anthony Red is a big dude. At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, the offensive lineman is one of SU’s biggest recruits in the class of 2019. But he hasn’t always been such a monster. When he transferred to St. Thomas More, a prep school in Connecticut, for his junior and senior seasons, Red was only weighing in at 230, but a change in his diet made the difference.
“A lot of eating, a lot of lifting. I lifted twice a day, ate about five plates at dinner and I ate about three cups of ramen noodles after. I’d have about four peanut butter sandwiches and sometimes when I didn’t have bread, I’d just eat peanut butter straight out of the cup… When the school had steak and mashed potatoes, I would load up because there was a lot of carbs.”
And getting bigger and stronger is still very important to him and something he wants to continue once he gets to Syracuse.
“Syracuse has a really great lifting and nutrition program so I can talk to them about it. I know some of the stuff I was eating was a little bit unhealthy and I had to slim down a little coming into the season. They’re probably going to start me with a great program, a great way to help me pack way more muscle and a lot more weight in a faster and more efficient way.”
Perhaps even more interesting than Red’s weight gain is his hometown, Bloomfield, CT. SU fans might be familiar with it because it’s also where Orange great Dwight Freeney grew up and Red says he’s learned a lot from watching Freeney.
“He had a high motor. He never took rest. He was constantly going. That’s how I am. I don’t really like to rest. That’s why I love Syracuse, because of the up-tempo offense. It’s not slowing down. I like to keep on going. I like to progress. I like to move.”
Listen to the rest of Red’s interview here:
3:46 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 6 – Courtney Jackson
Courtney Jackson was the first member of the Class of 2019 to commit when he verbally pledged to the Orange back in April. He was also the first member of the class to sign and fax in his NLI when he sent it in at 7:09 a.m. The only 2019 WR to sign with SU, Jackson is ready to get to Central New York and show off his game-breaking speed.
“My ability in open space is different from anybody else’s. I can catch the ball after five yards and take it 80. It’s just something that I can do well… At the end of the day I want to be known as a playmaker. I want to be somebody they look to when they need a big play offensively and that I don’t crack under pressure and that I can come through.”
Listen to the rest of Jackson’s interview, including which NFL player he models his game after, here:
2:51 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 5 – Jawhar Jordan
Originally a member of the class of 2018, three-star running back Jawhar Jordan had to reclassify to 2019 because of eligibility issues relating to academics. And even though it’s still a year later than expected, Jordan never wavered in his commitment to SU:
“Syracuse made it seem like I was a family member to them already before I had even committed… They were all very welcoming. I’m just blessed to be able to join the Orange… It was a process. Thank God that I stuck true to my word and kept pushing. I’m just happy I made it. It’s been long and frustrating but I had to do what I had to do to get here and now I’m glad that it’s all said and done and it’s official.”
Although he played his high school ball in Arizona, Jordan grew up on Long Island and he’s excited to have the opportunity to come back and play close to home:
“It’s a blessing, especially when I have friends and family that want to be able to see me play and ball out at the next level and I just can’t wait for them to actually see me.”
Listen to the rest of Jordan’s interview here:
2:04 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 4 – Geoff Cantin
Syracuse’s strong connection with Canada continues in the Class of 2019 — two Orange commits come from north of the border, including linebacker Geoff Cantin. He’s a member of a loaded group on the way to SU; three of the top four commits in the class play linebacker. But the 6-foot-3 Cantin isn’t worried about that position label.
“I can be an all-position player. I can play linebacker, free safety, strong safety. I can hit very hard. I can’t wait to show Syracuse fans what I’m able to do.”
Brian Ward, the Orange’s defensive coordinator who also grooms linebackers, says Cantin’s versatility caught his attention: “He’s an incredible athlete. He’s played anything from corner to defensive end to middle linebacker to outside linebacker. He’s one of the best athletes that I’ve seen live… Really expect Geoff to have an impact on our program immediately.”
The Canadian game gave him plenty of room to roam:
“The field is a lot larger than yours. The strong side is very, very wide. It’s difficult to [cover] people… There’s a lot of motion. Sometimes, there are three receivers motioning on the same play. So, sometimes it becomes a little bit difficult to defend against that play.”
Listen to Geoff’s entire interview — including a French lesson — here:
12:32 p.m. – Commit Interview No. 3 – Garrett Williams
Williams comes to the Orange as a three-star cornerback out of North Carolina. He joins a Syracuse secondary that helped force the second most turnovers in the country. Williams is a part of a defense-heavy class in hopes of improving the skill on that side of the ball for the near future:
“I think since they realize that the offense is already there, they want the defense to catch up with it. The defense this past season for Syracuse was a lot better than a lot of people would know or even expect. Adding [this class] to the mix is only going to make us better than what they were this year.”
Listen to the rest of Williams’ interview here:
11:58 a.m. – Commit Interview No. 2 – Drew Tuazama
Three-star defensive end Drew Tuazama’s path to Syracuse was not a straight shot. Originally a member of the class of 2018, Tuazama had offers to play tight end for the likes of Miami and Florida State. Instead of accepting any of those offers, he decided to take a prep year at Jireh Prep in North Carolina, not only to get his grades up, but also to make a position change to DE.
“I feel like at defensive end, I can make a greater impact on the game than tight end because being a tight end, certain plays they’re not meant for you. I feel like at any given moment of the game, I can change the game as a defensive end.”
And Tuazama didn’t just make an impact on the football field in high school. At 6-foot-7, he was also a pretty talented basketball player. He played in the 2015 Adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas and went viral as a result of pretty wild dunk.
“I was extremely excited. I didn’t know it was going to blow up like that until I saw Ball Is Life post it. Ball Is Life is like a real big YouTube channel in the basketball community so as soon as they got a hold of it, I knew it was going to blow up.”
Listen to the rest of Tuazama’s interview here:
11:45 a.m. – Commit Interview No. 1 – Cooper Dawson
Three star defensive lineman Cooper Dawson chose Syracuse today over Clemson, UCF and others. The South Carolina product is tasked with continuing this year’s success on the line after the Orange finished the regular season seventh in the country in sacks per game. He talks to the Fizz about his friendship with Kingsley Feinman and why he turned down his dream school in favor of SU.
“Whenever a coach would call me and I was hanging out with [Kingsley], I would make sure to hand Kingsley the phone and let the coaches talk to him. I didn’t think it would be this big of a deal, but when I got my first offer, I think it was from Coastal, I knew Kingsley had to be a part of it with me.”
“I told [Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott], I was planning on committing to Syracuse and he totally understood it because he knew what position I wanted to play and told me that Syracuse had the best defensive ends that he had played all year.”
Listen to the rest of Dawson’s interview here:
11:08 am. Jawhar Jordan Finally Signs with Syracuse
The running back was committed to SU’s class of 2018 but was unable to sign due to academics. After waiting a year, the dynamic running back will now enroll at Syracuse in January. At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds Jordan is a quick, elusive running back similar to Moe Neal. He was rated as SU’s top running back recruit in 2018 and is the only running back to sign with Syracuse so far today.
9:24 am. Geoff Cantin Heads South
The second Canadian in Syracuse’s class has signed. According to ESPN, Cantin is SU’s fifth highest commit out of Montreal. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Cantin already has the size to play outside linebacker in the ACC. Syracuse was Cantin’s only offer according to ESPN, but that may be due to a lack of background information on him. Babers and his staff have done a great job finding obscure talent across the country, and in this case across the border.
— Dino Babers (@CoachBabersCuse) December 19, 2018
9:20 am. Cornelius Nunn Inks with SU
Nunn, SU’s top defensive back commit, had originally committed to Syracuse in June before de-committing after the loss to Pittsburgh. He then committed to the hometown Miami Hurricanes before de-committing and re-upping with the Orange in November. Besides his offer from Miami, the safety also had offers from Nebraska, Kentucky, Boston College, Baylor, and others.
9:13 am. Ishmael Goulbourne Pledges to Syracuse
The outside linebacker is from Florida, becoming the third SU signee from Florida so far. At 6-foot-3, Goulborne has great length for an OLB, but needs to add weight since he’s only 195 pounds. He chose the Orange over offers from Cincinnati, Buffalo, Western Michigan and others.
9:10 am. Darius Tisdale will Suit up for Syracuse
The JUCO offensive tackle is rated as SU’s third highest commit according to ESPN. At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, Tisdale could slide in and start immediately for the Orange. The O-lineman committed to Syracuse a couple weeks ago after seeing his stock skyrocket late in the recruiting process. Before SU offered him, Tisdale was an unrated recruit. However, after the offer he began to gather others from schools like West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Arkansas and Rutgers.
8:55 am. Adrian Cole faxes in NLI
Cole originally committed back in June before backing off the commitment. However, he recommitted in November and immediately shut down his recruitment. At 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, Cole still needs to add weight to compete in the ACC. However, he hails from a powerhouse program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Plantation High School has produced SU tight end Ravian Pierce, as well as former Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier. By bringing Cole on board, Babers did something that Syracuse fans have been wishing for.
— Dino Babers (@CoachBabersCuse) December 19, 2018
8:54 am. Lee Kpogba Signs with SU
According to Rivals, Kpogba was a four-star recruit and ranked the 6th best outside linebacker in the country. He becomes the third Syracuse signee from North Carolina and picked the Orange over others like Duke, Tennessee and Florida State. He had previously been committed to West Virginia before de-committing in early October.
8:41 am. Cooper Dawson Commits and Signs
At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, the South Carolina native is listed as an offensive tackle, but SU intends to bring him in as a defensive lineman. He can play either defensive tackle or defensive end. After visiting the Orange earlier this month, he signed with Syracuse over Army, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Clemson, as well as others. He also committed in a pretty touching way.
This is one of the greatest signing days you will ever see. Hanahan’s Cooper Dawson picks Syracuse- but does it by first telling close friend Kingsley Feinman. Kingsley announces the decision- Dawson adds that Kingsley taught him the only disability is a bad attitude. @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/3OGJzJmlXg
— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) December 19, 2018
8:07 am. Luke Benson Heading to the 315
Syracuse’s only tight end commit has sent in his NLI. The Pennsylvania native is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, so he has the size to make tough catches over the middle. Benson will line up next to the offensive line, unlike some tight end recruits who lined up in the fullback position in high school
7:47 am. Top OT Matthew Bergeron Inks to SU
At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, the Canadian could compete for a starting position on day one. Bergeron is one of two Canadians committed to the Orange in the 2019 class and is rated as the 79th OT according to 247.
7:43 am. Garrett Williams Pledges
Williams became SU’s seventh signee early this morning. One of Syracuse’s three corner back commits, the North Carolina picked the Orange over Maryland and West Virginia.Williams is a converted quarterback, so he has the athleticism to play all over the field.
7:36 am. Anthony Red Jr. is a big tackle from Connecticut. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Red Jr. will help mitigate the losses of SU’s two tackles. He was Syracuse’s third commit when he committed back in June during a Syracuse Football camp. We broke down Red’s ability further here.
7:33 am. Top Commit Mikel Jones Signs
Syracuse’s top commit and top-25 linebacker in the nation has officially signed. Jones was one of the recruits who committed to Babers under a month ago, when the Orange went on a tear in recruiting. According to ESPN, Jones is a top-300 recruit, Syracuse’s first top-300 recruit since Tommy DeVito. As we mentioned when he committed, this guy can flat out ball and Dino Babers was pumped.
— Dino Babers (@CoachBabersCuse) December 19, 2018
7:29 am. Joe Rondi will Wear Orange
The fax machines keep churning as the 6-foot-3 defensive tackle from New Jersey has signed. Rondi was the second recruit to commit to Syracuse, just after Courtney Jackson. He’ll have to add some weight, but the big man benched 335 in high school so he’s got the strength to compete in the ACC already.
7:26 am. Aman Greenwood Sends in NLI
One of Washington DC’s best recruits signed to the Orange this morning. He is Syracuse top defensive back commit and at 5-foot-11, he has the size to stick at corner. Greenwood committed to Syracuse under a month ago and we told you more about him here.
7:22 am. Drew Tuazama becomes Syracuse’s Second Signee
The defensive end hails from North Carolina and is only 235 pounds so he must add weight to play in the ACC. According to 247, he is the No. 2 prep-school prospect in the country. He was originally a 2018 recruit before deciding to go to prep school for a year. His other offers include Miami, Ole Miss, Florida State and Maryland.
7:09 am. Speedster Courtney Jackson is First to Sign
The Wide Receiver is ranked as Syracuse’s second best recruit according to ESPN. It only makes sense for Jackson to be the first signee, he was also the first 2019 commitment. We told you a little bit more about Jackson when he committed in April. The Pennsylvania native is 5-foot-11 and only 165 pounds. He will likely continue Dino Babers’ long tradition of developing star receivers as he was clearly drawn to SU’s up-tempo offense.
Committed 🍊 Orange Is The New Fast 😏 pic.twitter.com/d0KKx02lyE
— Courtney™ (@cjackson9_) April 27, 2018
7:00 am. – Fizz’s Early Signing Day Thread is Here
It’ Early Signing Day for high school football players across the nation. Fans across the country have been waiting the whole year for today. For Syracuse fans, we’ve got you covered. Follow along at Orange Fizz and on twitter (@orangefizz) for all Syracuse recruiting information today.