Evaluating recruiting classes is a fluid process. For example, Syracuse’s 2018 group now looks even better than it did on signing day after more-than-solid freshman seasons from guys like Andre Cisco and Taj Harris. The Orange’s 2018 cycle has proven to be the most productive for the program since Dino Babers took over three years ago. With uncertainty surrounding Syracuse’s latest two classes, the 2018 recruits are going to have to carry even more of the load this season.
Cisco figures to be a huge part of the SU defense again this fall. These days, you can’t even go on twitter without seeing pre-season praise for the Orange safety. He’ll get the chance this year to silence the critics that question how “lucky” his seven interceptions were. Pro Football Focus seems to think his rookie year wasn’t a fluke.
Andre Cisco was a master with the ball in the air while in coverage last season. pic.twitter.com/wF3MobpDzg
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 7, 2019
Offensively, Taj Harris leads the way after an impressive first year in Babers’ fast-paced offense. He’s my leading candidate to lead the Orange in receiving yards this year. Harris showed a ton of promise in a freshman year that could have been even better statistically. No one should be questioning his talent at this point in the game.
Honestly, putting more pressure on the other 2018 guys may be the logical play at this point for the SU coaches. There are plenty of guys in that group who have shown potential. Take a guy like Trill Williams, a former four-star recruit who finished second on the team among freshman last year with 31 tackles. Williams started four games for the Orange and can play both nickel and corner. While he’s projected to start the year at nickel, he could challenge veteran Scoop Bradshaw for the second starting corner job at some point in the season.
Williams is one of many players in this class yearning for an expanded role next season. Realistically, there isn’t enough playing time available for all of these guys to make a big impact next year…
Jarveon Howard: Babers used Howard plenty last year in short-yardage situations. Even with the arrival of Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams, I expect that to continue. We may even see two back sets near the goal line with tight end Chris Elmore plugged in as an extra blocker. Bottom line: Howard was too good last year to be on the side lines in those situations.
Lakiem Williams: There’s a void in the middle of the SU defense and Williams is among the players with a chance to fill it. He played mostly special teams last year after transferring from junior college. Brian Ward will likely lean on Williams’ previous college experience in the first few weeks of the season.
Qadir White: Recruited as a tackle, White was listed as a backup guard when a depth chart was released in the spring. Many expected white to be in the running for a starting job at this point in his SU career. That could still be the case with camp on the horizon.
Ed Hendrix: He missed last year after a knee injury in the preseason. At 6-foot-3, Hendrix presents size that other Syracuse wide receivers don’t have. The next tallest target for quarterback Tommy DeVito is Trishton Jackson at 6-foot-1. Hendrix has the potential to play right away and steal snaps from guys like Sean Riley and Nykiem Johnson.
Those are just a few of the players in the 2018 recruiting class that could make their mark on the program this fall. The list doesn’t stop there. Safety Cameron Jonas and receiver Anthony Queeley could also see their playing time increase significantly.
Syracuse has plenty of holes to fill this year, but fans should be optimistic about the players from this class that can come in and fill them. The Orange’s 2018 recruiting class could prove to be one of the best in recent memory.