In recent memory, Syracuse fans have become spoiled with speedy, quick-twitch edge rushers who excel at bending around the edge and leaping to the quarterback. Unfortunately after next season, SU loses six defensive linemen, including defensive stalwarts Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson.
SU also loses defensive end Brandon Berry, who backs up Robinson, as well as second string nose tackle Shaq Grosvenor. But the biggest loss comes at defensive tackle, where the Orange lose first and second stringers McKinley Williams and Kenneth Ruff. Dino Babers began to restock the defensive beef in the 2019 recruiting class, by pulling Jason Munoz, Cooper Dawson, Joe Rondi, Steven Linton, and Drew Tuazama to the central New York. In early fall practices, Tuazama has shown out.
The defensive line was the biggest group in last year’s class. And in the 2020 class, Syracuse holds commits from three defensive linemen. According to ESPN, Josh Ilaoa is the lowest ranked out of the three, but he may be the most important. He’s the only defensive tackle and is listed at 280 pounds. With one more season of high school football to play, he has plenty of opportunity to put on even more weight.
Syracuse is also in good position to land defensive end Akheem Mesidor, from Clearwater, Florida. Mesidor is 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, and 247Sports’ only prediction for the D-lineman is for SU. Another defensive end the Orange are in position for – whose primary recruiter is Defensive Coordinator Brian Ward – is Olasunkonmi Agunloye. At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, Agunloye already has the size SU looks for in its ends. He’s also from New York, and while Babers’ staff has recruited well nationally, its had trouble locking down state borders.
On film Agunloye’s high school plays with three crouched lineman with a fourth rusher standing up. Agunloye plays strongside defensive end and is clearly unstoppable, as he bulldozes blockers back into the quarterback. When he grabs onto quarterbacks, he doesn’t let go, and has a tendency to fling them on the ground effortlessly. On running plays, he does the same thing. He seems to have very strong hands, if he gets ahold of a player, he’s not letting go. Of course, he’s playing against outmatched high schoolers, but he’s very impressive on film.
Mesidor specializes in bone crushing hits, where you can hear the pop from the top of the stands. Unlike Agunloye, the Florida native is more of a speed rusher, so even if SU lands one of these guys, they’ll likely still pursue the other. Mesidor is fantastic in open space, which is where many defenders are liable to break their ankles. His fearlessness is apparent, and his straight line speed freezes offensive players right before the end of looking at the sky, flat on their back.