Although Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers said most of the Orange’s recruiting class signed on Early National Signing Day in December, today’s National Signing Day was full of impactful moments.
The “fine tuning” of the signing class today, as Babers put it, includes quarterback David Summers, running back Garrison Johnson, defensive tackle Jason Munoz and defensive end Steve Linton.
With SU’s Recruiting Class of 2019 complete, Babers spoke about what his team accomplished and where he sees the squad going from here. Here is what we learned from Dino Babers’ National Signing Day press conference:
1) The Syracuse coaching staff will build the offense around the players on the team and the skills they individually have.
By this point, we know that Babers runs a trademarked offense: fast, no-huddle, quick. What Syracuse has not seen tested yet in Central New York is how that offense can be successful with new players leading the team with very different skills from other staple players that used to fill key roles but are now gone. (Think: Eric Dungey graduates in May; Tommy DeVito seems to be the de facto starter now and David Summers was signed today.)
“I think the one thing that we do a fantastic job of not only with the kicking game but offensively and defensively is having enough knowledge that we can have the flexibility to build our offense or our defense or our special teams around the personnel that we have,” Babers said.
After four years (three years with the Babers offense), we knew Dungey’s style. He could pass, and boy could he run. He was aggressive, nimble, moved a lot and moved quickly and was not afraid to give up his body to gain an extra yard.
So with the departure of a player who has been as much a part of the system as the system has become part of him, does Syracuse look for a quarterback recruit that resembles Dungey in order to eventually fill Dungey’s shoes? No, Babers said. Babers said his offensive system has already proven the test of time with seven very different quarterbacks, and it would adapt to Summers’ style if the time comes to do so.
“David Summers is a very accurate thrower that can touch the football field. He has a very sharp mind, which means the ball can come out of his hand very, very quickly. … If his time comes, we will build the offense around some of those attributes.”
2) Syracuse still has some scholarships left to give out, but the number is top secret.
“You’re saying we have zero scholarships left to give?” Babers asked a reporter who was speculating aloud that SU has already exhausted all of its scholarships. “Yeah, you’re off.”
And when asked about how many the Orange still have left in supply, Babers responded “I’m not going to give you the exact number.”
Both Early National Signing Day and National Signing Day are now over, and the Syracuse Recruiting Class of 2019 is now [basically] complete, but there is still more room to round out the class even further if possible.
Babers said he is still looking to fill or enhance his team’s ability at specific positions (he did not disclose which positions exactly). At the same time, he said “I don’t think we’re at the point yet where we can just turn down a fantastic player. … If somebody comes through the door that’s just outstanding that can take one of our starters and just flat put them on the bench based on what they can do and add to the community and the university, I think it’s somebody that we have to look at.”
There is still work to do. Especially if recruiting keeps being focused on younger and younger players, as Babers said he thinks it is. He said it’s getting to a point where February National Signing Day might not even be a thing anymore in the future because schools now sign so much of their class in December.
3) Syracuse prioritizes players who will fit into the ohana.
We’ve seen the inspirational locker room chants. We’ve seen the impressive Dino Baber’s speeches.
Dino Babers is all about the family. He’s all about what his team stands for and why they are doing what they’re doing.
It’s the mindset that guides his team. And he said he and his staff need to make sure the players they are adding to the Orange are people who will embrace the team mission and vision.
“When they come on a recruiting trip, they’re evaluating us, but we’re also evaluating them. And we really do work hard as a staff of trying to bring the right type of people into our community and into our university. And for the most part, we’re exactly right on that. Sometimes we’re wrong, and if we know we’re wrong, we’ll try to correct the mistake very quickly, because I think that there’s nothing more important in our culture. When we talk about our family, a la familia, our ohana, I think that, you know, it’s not lip service with us. We are going to allow young people to come in and grow up, but if they’re not growing up exactly the right way, then maybe this is not the best place for them, maybe they need to go somewhere else.”
“Ohana” is Hawaiian for “family,” fitting for a coach who was born in Hawaii. Even in cold Syracuse, it’s a warm, endearing way to position the mindset of his squad.
4) Syracuse came in second place in the ACC in 2018, and it’s acting like it.
With tangible improvement over the past three years with a 2018 bowl trophy on the Syracuse campus now, Syracuse can use its success to its advantage and recruit better players.
“We’re not a 4-8 ACC team that took last in the conference anymore where maybe you’re going to take some stretches on some players because some other players aren’t interested in you,” Babers said. “When you win 10 wins, when you get 10 wins in the ACC, first of all you need to act like it, and you need to recruit like it, I think the young men and the young people up and down the eastern seaboard can see the strides that the program’s making.”
High school players are watching. Recruits are watching. Babers says the Orange’s success can make players want to commit to SU because they see the vision of the program and want to be part of it.
Then those players can come to the Orange and, hopefully for the team, continue and enhance that success so the snowball of success and improved recruiting continue.
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Published: David Edelstein