In the 2021 recruiting class, Syracuse has focused on the defensive side of the ball so far. That makes sense considering Tony White’s 3-3-5 scheme will completely change the way SU plays. Last season, the Orange allowed over 200 yards rushing per game, which was probably the biggest reason for the losing season.
However, the offensive line struggled mightily. Game after game Tommy DeVito was scrambling for his life. Against Pitt, DeVito and back-up Clayton Welch were sacked nine times. Welch only entered the game after DeVito was knocked out of it. So with that glaring issue, SU must improve its offensive line. This past weekend, the Orange added its first offensive line commit.
Austyn Kauhi is a three-star commit from Hawaii, picking the Orange over Nevada, San Diego State, Fresno State and others. At 6-foot-5, Kauhi has the size and arm length to stay outside as an offensive tackle. Right now, he’s only 260 pounds so he needs to add some weight, but he has plenty of time. He has the frame to add that weight pretty easily, and could easily be closer to 300 pounds by the time he steps on campus.
It is difficult for freshmen offensive linemen to start from day one, and it’s generally best to avoid inexperienced linemen. But, Syracuse will be losing left tackle Airon Servais after this coming season. Back-up Anthony Red is slotted to replace Servais, but there may be competition for second-string.
Offensive lines are not rebuilt in one year, and more improvement comes from experience, rather than recruits. More so than any other position group, O-lineman need time to gel with teammates. They also often need to bulk up and learn what it’s like trying to stop ACC defensive linemen.
But Kauhi has the physical measurements teams look for in tackles. His film shows him mostly lining up at right tackle. Edge rushers have a tendency to burst by Kauhi and gain leverage on him. That puts more pressure on his right arm, rather than equally distributing across his body.
But he does have really strong upper body strength, and we’ll see if that translates to college football. He’s able to throw guys to the ground and even pancakes a few in his highlights.