Syracuse’s recruiting class is being chipped away by late switches, including DE Harold Brantley, who gave his verbal to Missouri Sunday. The Fizz nicknamed Brantley “The Hershey Hulk” when he first committed to SU over the summer. The two-way star hit everything in sight with his powerful frame. The 6’3″, 280 lb. DE/FB anchored the D-Line and rushed for 760 yards and 13 TDs for Hershey HS. He chose SU over Penn State and Pitt.
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But Mizzou jumped in late and convinced Brantley to visit Columbia this weekend. Upon returning home, he promptly switched his verbal. The Tigers attempted the same attack on SU commit Josh Manley, but the DE decided against visiting MU and stayed with the Orange. LB Leroy Owens switched his verbal last week from Syracuse to nearby FIU.
Can Doug Marrone hold onto his commitments for just two more days? By National Signing Day on Wednesday, all recruits will be able to sign official letters of intent. But until then, the late politicking will put some strain on lukewarm commits. It’s an eye for an eye. Syracuse has attempted the same late push on Rutgers recruit Leonte Caroo, who was wavering like many commits after Crazy Eyes Schiano left for the NFL.
The question is can SU end the recruiting season with a plus or minus? Will the Orange lose more talent than its able to retain or add late? Or can Marrone finish with keeping most of its class in tact and adding a few late pieces?
Manley’s head coach encouraged his player to stay loyal to his original decision. From Syracuse.com this weekend:
“He and I talked. I said SU has made a commitment to you, and you’ve made a commitment to them,” said Milton football coach Howie DeCristofaro, who convinced Manley to skip the last-minute visit and honor his pledge.
DeCristofaro, who spent two years as a graduate assistant at Miami University under Butch Davis, said that kind of recruiting is common, particularly in the football hotbeds of the south. He said the Tigers were probably just doing to SU what some other programs had done to them.
“To me, it sounded like they’d just lost a couple of (defensive) tackles, and now they’re trying to raid someone else’s pantry,” he said.
Until SU gets back to winning consistently, this will be a vicious cycle for the Orange. Marrone and co. need to target recruits early in the process and build strong relationships. Brantley said Syracuse was the first school to come visit him, and he developed a strong rapport with the coaches. The upside is SU can “buy stock” early in talented players that would normally go elswhere, like 4-star TE Sugar Bear Thompson. The downside is, despite all the legwork, better schools can swoop in at the last second and woo players like Brantley.
Losing the Hershey Hulk is a tough blow to SU’s recruiting class. The Orange was hoping to use this group to restock a depleted front 7. Brantley could’ve been a big piece to that puzzle. But it’s part of the game. These will be stressful, sleepless days for Marrone’s staff. SU has to hang onto its class for just 48 hours. Can it do it without losing any more pieces?