Syracuse already has a whopping 17 recruits who have given verbal commitments for the class of 2012. Doug Marrone and company got off to a red hot start in July that vaulted the class to one of the top in the Big East. The Dougie has brought in kids from all over the country that possess great speed, great strength and high football IQ’s. But which of these prospects will make the biggest impact during their time on the Hill? The Fizz has analyzed the ’12 commits and come up with the top 5 impact players from the next class of Orange. Interestingly, they all hail from just two states – New York and Florida. Obviously, these players have not signed letters of intent yet. Their verbal commitments are non-binding, so we still have to wait until February for them to officially become Orange.
5. Julian Whigham (William T. Dwyer/ Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Whigham is just waiting to explode. He plays and practices against top competition day in and day out at Dwyer and has serious wheels. He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, and that time will only get faster as he gets back to full strength after missing time last season with injuries. With the cornerback position being a potential weakness for SU, Julian has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact. South Florida recruiting guru Larry Bluestein told us in this week’s FizzCast that JW is a player with tremendous hands, breaks up a lot of passes and is just someone you don’t consistently throw on. Sounds like the makings of a shutdown corner. You can’t teach speed, but you can certainly coach someone to use their speed to become an impact player. Julian has speed to burn, and SU fans should be excited to see what coach Marrone and Shafer can do with him.
4. Leroy Owens (Palatka High/ Palatka, FL)
Owens isn’t going to wow you with hit-stick collisions, but he has the form tackle down to a tee. Watching him play, every single tackle is from the waist down and he never gets knocked back. Leroy may not explode on the scene immediately, but by junior year he should be the stalwart on defense. He is rarely out of position and reacts very well to plays. As The Fizz has noted, his size sets him apart from most linebacker recruits. At 6-4 210 lbs. already, he could easily end up in the 230-240 range when he gets on a college-level weight training program. But he isn’t just a big player that overpowers smaller kids in high school. Owens also displays good quickness from sideline to sideline (solid in pass coverage too, 23 pass breakups last season). Owens didn’t get the hoopla a lot of Florida recruits do, but the Sunshine State produces around 400 FBS players per year. With a talent pool that deep, a good player can easily go overlooked. Leroy is one of those who isn’t getting the attention… yet.
3. DeVante McFarlane (Half Hollow Hills West/ Dix Hills, NY)
Speed? Check. Toughness? Check. Swagger? Check. Is there anything else that McFarlane needs to become a star at the next level? Watching Devante play makes your mouth drop. He’s incredibly elusive and breaks opposing player’s ankles with shake n’ bake moves. McFarlane isn’t just a homerun threat at the running back position, he can put you on the ground too. Pancakes everywhere when he pass blocks or lead blocks on offense, and rib sticking hits on defense. DeVante has great hands as well, and loves having the ball in the open field. When your highlight reel is nine minutes long, you know he makes a lot big plays. He is without question the leader of his high school team, and that quality can often equate becoming an impact player. Earlier The Fizz asked whether SU fans should be excited about signing a kid whose other offers were Vanderbilt and Kent State. The answer could be a resounding yes. When McFarlane comes to the Hill in ’12, the starting running back role might be a wide open. Don’t be surprised to see DeVante sneak up and get a lot of playing time and take over the Antwon Bailey role.
2. Alvin Cornelius (Tottenville High/ Staten Island, NY)
You don’t need written adjectives to describe how good Cornelius can be. Let his game do the talking. As a junior Alvin averaged over 21 yards per catch and scored 14 touchdowns, becoming a household name on Staten Island. His 32 catches for 695 yards and made him SI’s Borough Player of the Year. Few can stay with A.C. on streak routes and he has the ability to out jump the competition for 50-50 balls. His mid-air adjustments on the ball are incredible; he turns would-be interceptions into big plays. National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports thinks Cornelius has all the tools to be a great WR at the next level too. “He looks the ball into his hands and he becomes an elusive runner. He’s a special player.” Alvin also received praise and respect from opposing coaches. Sheepshead Bay coach Fred Snyder says about Cornelius, “He gets open all the time. He has two footsteps on everybody and he knows how to adjust to the ball well. He’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen.” Snyder also said Cornelius is “head and shoulders” better then SU ’11 recruit Brandon Reddish. He brings athletic ability, leadership and an internal drive to get better that will make everyone around him succeed.
1. James Washington (Winter Park High/ Winter Park, FL)
Washingtton is going to wreak havoc rushing from the outside when he comes to the Dome. He has a great first step coming off the ball and flys by lineman to make a ton of tackles in the backfield. James will excel in Shafer’s attacking pressure defense, and he should rack up the sacks. Washington is a rush specialist and will draw a ton of attention to help free others on defense. He played last season with his hand on the ground in the end position, but has tranisitioned and worked on his pass coverage during the 7-7 tournaments in the spring/summer. He is big, fast, athletic and will be the biggest impact player in the draft class. As The Fizz continues to stress, you can’t teach speed and you can’t teach size. JW has both of those already, could make a difference inside the Dome as early as next season.
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Posted: Dave Van Moffaert