(Update 10:00p) He dealt with the coaching change, he became familiar with a staff, and now East Pennsboro QB Austin Wilson told the Fizz he is excited to be taking his talents up to the Salt City.
“I’m Pumped. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to sign on National Letter of Intent Day. I’m part of a big time program now, and I’m excited to be leading the Orange into the ACC.”
And he’ll certainly have the chance. Not a single QB on the roster in 2013 has any starting experience, and Wilson is ready for a little quarterback competition this summer.
“It’s going to very fun and exciting to competing with [Mitch Kimble] and the QB’s. It’s going to be fun times this season for whoever gets the starting job, everybody is going to be gunning for it, but I think everyone has the same opportunity.”
Wilson has great fundamentals in the pocket and comes in with size, standing at 6’3”, 210 lbs. He’ll be battling with fellow freshman Mitch Kimble, and veterans Terrell Hunt, Johnny Kinder and Charley Loeb. -Kevin Fitzgerald
(Update 7:21p) The Orange is officially loaded with young talent at the tight end position. With notable recruits Ron Thompson and Josh Parris already on campus from last year’s recruiting class, add Provo (depending on whether you whether you actually consider him a TE) and Aaron Batten from the 2013 class. We caught up with Batten just after he finished his signing day ceremony at his Dade Christian School in Miami, FL. Here’s what he’ll bring to the table for the Orange.
“Height, speed, athleticism, the whole package. I’m what you call a hybrid tight end. I’m rare…I’m a rare prize.”
The 3-star recruit and former Kent State commit credited none other than Coach McDonald (huge surprise) for convincing him to come all the way up north the Syracuse.
(Update 5:54p) Tyler Provo has some big shoes to fill with the Orange in 2013. The Delray Beach TE got some late interest from Louisville but has been committed to SU since last May. If the name sounds familiar, Tyler is the younger brother of Nick Provo. Big bro holds the Orange’s single-season reception and career reception records. Provo is up to the challenge of surpassing his brother’s astounding numbers:
“I’ve got to come in and try to beat his record. It’s one of my goals. I think he broke the record in two years. I got four, so hopefully I can double that.”
Despite the late looks, Provo stayed committed to SU large in part to ACC realignment:
“I’m real excited I stay committed. I want to play the big teams like Florida State, Miami, and Clemson. I’m really excited about that.”
Provo was very versatile at American Heritage HS, but his intentions are to play his typical tight end position:
“I’m good at getting open. In my high school career I did a lot of blocking at full back and half back. I’m a very good blocker. I want to play tight end.”
(Update 5:18p) Corey Cooper is one of two wide receivers in SU’s 2013 class. Cooper hails straight from “Tobacco Road” and was a late snag for the Orange. The Raleigh, NC native can’t wait to compete against the schools whose shadows he grew up in:
“I’m ready to get on the field early. I’m real happy because I get to play NC State, UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, And North Carolina and that’s where I’m from. So it feels pretty good to play them in my backyard.”
Cooper is a young deep threat talent, something needed as Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon move out. Cooper’s had ties with new OC George McDonald since the 9th grade. He’s thrilled to start working even more with “The Mailman.”
“My relationship is great with Coach McDonald. He’s just a great guy. I respect him a lot. It impacted me a lot because it was somewhere I could be comfortable.”
(Update: 3:20p) Juco transfer Darius Kelly (Pima Communtiy College, AZ) remembers signing his LOI way back in the beginning of Janurary. The defensive back committed in December and has plans to come in and play immediately in the Orange secondary. Kelly tells The Fizz what it was like when he signed on the dotted line:
“It was a big moment. It was surreal moment. It felt like the weight was lifted off your shoulder. All the stress and hard work has finally paid off.”
Kelly was one of the first commits to break the news that Scott Shafer was appointed as Syracuse’s new head coach. Despite all the coaching changes, Kelly is excited to play for Shafer:
“He’s a fiery, blue collar guy. He is ready to rock and work. I want to play for someone who doesn’t care who is in front of us and were just ready to win.”
Kelly believes this year’s recruiting class can’t be overlooked heading into a new conference:
“If you work hard with the talent we have, we can succeed in the ACC. I don’t feel like this a pushover class at all.”
With little depth at corner/safety, Kelly can come in right away to build his own corner back island in the Dome.
(Update: 2:55p) It’s hard to find anyone else in this 2013 class with more style than Wayne Williams. He’s had his sights set on one place for next football season for quite some time.
The 3-star JUCO DT signed his LOI and made his commitment to SU official. The 6’6” 330 lbs monster of a lineman will make more of an impact next season than most people expect. Not only is the Brooklyn native looking forward to bowling over offensive lineman with his brute strength next season on the Hill, he’ll use his sneaky quickness as well.
“I blind you with speed, you don’t get to really match my speed on film. You have to change your gameplan around me.”
Williams is the only NYC recruit in this year’s class. He told the Fizz he was disappointed that some of the city’s other top prospects like Laray Smith, Augustus Edwards and Ebenezer Ogundeko, decided to stray away from their home state.
“Those guys are pretty young, so they don’t understand the importance of putting on for your home city. But I’m an older, mature guy, so I know the benefits that will come for signing with Syracuse.”
Cuse Nation is certainly glad Williams decided to stay home. The ASA College transfer will come in and compete right away, and will have three years of eligibility at SU. –Kevin Fitzgerald
(Update: 2:49p) Wayne Williams may be the only NYC recruit in this class, but the Orange is bringing in one other very talented player from in-state. 3-star cornerback Chauncey Scissum from near Rochester has officially signed with the Orange. And he’s looking forward to playing with former Rush-Henrietta teammate Ashton Broyld.
“That’s great being able to get back on the field with him. We had a great connection when he was in high school. I feel more comfortable going in there with someone I know, definitely.”
Take a listen to our conversation with Chauncey to hear what else he’s looking forward to about coming to Syracuse. -Andrew Kanell
(Update: 2:22p) It’s been Cuse Nation since the very start for 2-star DE Isaiah Johnson. The Delaware native made it official this morning when he signed his Letter of Intent to Syracuse. The match was perfect for Zeke. He developed a great relationship with Defensive Line Coach Tim Daoust, and was always on the same page with Scott Shafer.
Johnson told the Fizz he can’t wait to be around hard-nosed Shafer’s vibrant energy and enthusiasm.
“Yes, definitely. That’s the type of guy I am, I’m hyped everyday. Even when I’m not in a good mood I’m hyped. It’s just my personality and I usually brighten up people’s days.”
Shafer’s ascension to Head Coach meant a lot to the Eastern Christian Academy star. But a month ago, SU’s 2013 class looked like it was about to crumble after Marrone and company fled to Buffalo. Johnson took it upon himself to reach out to the other commits and make sure they were all still set on the Cuse.
“Somebody needed to step up and be the leader. I tried my best to get in touch with all the recruits. I have the technique and the ability to become a leader on and off the field.”
Johnson thinks that passion will translate to the gridiron this season for SU. -Kevin Fitzgerald
(Update: 1:48p) Don’t sleep on Marqez Hodge. The 3-star linebacker from Miami is an excellent get for the Orange, despite the lack of fanfare.
It’s really pretty simple why Hodge hasn’t received much attention. He committed back in June, and nothing has changed since then. That’s not something you can say about many other members of this recruiting class. What helped for Hodge was that Scott Shafer was always the person recruiting him, even before Coach Marrone’s staff left for the Bills.
“Coach Shafer, he came down here first to recruit me.”
And it sounds like Hodge’s style of play fits what Coach Shafer is looking for.
“Knowledge of the game, hard-hitting, staying focused, staying disciplined. Everything that you would expect from a football player.”
– Andrew Kanell
(Update: 1:37p) SU is still in the running for 3-star Miami QB Akeem Jones. The dual-threat signal-caller was expected to make his decision between SU and Marshall, but his HS Coach Harold Barnwell at Miami Carol City told The Fizz that his plans have changed.
“Marshall is out of the picture. It will come down to Syracuse and Louisiana Lafayette.”
Jones teammate and former Orange target Simeon Thomas just signed with the Ragin’ Cajuns this afternoon. Barnwell said that Jones will not rush to make a decision, and will decide sometime this week. At the end National Signing Day, SU’s class will consist of 19 commits, baring anything unforeseen. Jones could become the 20th, and third QB of the class this week if he chooses SU.
He visited campus last weekend, and Barnwell admitted he had a wonderful visit.
“He loved it. The coaches were great, he loved everything about it. Coach McDonald and the coaches enjoyed having him. They like that he is a good kid and presents himself well.”
(Update: 1:07p) The University of Missouri made a last-ditch effort to land 3-star St. Louis wide receiver Corey Winfield. Unlike the Orange last November in Columbia, the Tigers saw their comeback fall short. Winfield never seriously considered decommitting from SU in favor of MU.
“When Missouri came in with the last-minute offer, I just thought about where were they when I committed to Northern Illinois, where were they during the spring? It was kind of a desperate move by them. I didn’t really have time to even think about it.”
One thing Syracuse had to offer over most other schools is the chance for Winfield to play early on in his career. He said the coaching staff told him the depth chart is wide open.
“They said all I have to do is come in and compete, and if I just come in and work hard and compete like I’m supposed to, then I could get a starting job.”
Check out our conversation with Corey for more on why he’s excited to come to Syracuse, and if he’s spoken at all with the other Corey in the recruiting class, Raleigh, NC wideout Corey Cooper. -Andrew Kanell
(Update: 12:24p) It’s official: Malik Brown will be taking his talents to Knoxville this season. The Cuse commit flipped to Tennesee according to Michael Cohen of the Post-Standard. Malik wore an orange tie at his presser today, but it had a Volunteer hue. The Fizz talked with Brown yesterday before the National Signing Day madness, and could tell the last few weeks have taken a toll on him. It was even reported the DE was pacing the floors at his High School before signing minutes ago.
The Dwyer HS product has been bombarded with college visits since Coach Marrone and the former SU staff bolted for Buffalo. It’s a big lose for Syracuse, Brown is a very versatile edge rusher, and put on a great deal of muscle since his senior year ended this past fall. With the lose of Brown, the SU class stands at 20 commits right now, and may not grow any larger. Miami QB Akeem Jones is the only target left for Cuse that has yet to sign. He’ll choose between SU and Marshall. -Kevin Fitzgerald
(Update: 11:43a) Illinois 2-star QB Mitch Kimble officially signed with Syracuse this morning. The 6’4” 195 lb. dual-threat specialist you could say nabs SU’s first ACC win, as Kimble decided Syracuse over NC State. He’s anxious to compete with Austin Wilson under center:
“We’re just excited to be teammates and compete with each other and make each other better. We’re both excited to have this opportunity to compete with each other.”
With George McDonald as the new OC, Kimble is excited for SU’s offensive attack:
“It’s going to be up-tempo. An exciting up-tempo [offense], fun to watch, [and] fun to play. It’s something that really sold me on my decision, that style of offense.”
Kimble has high standards coming in next year. With the move to the ACC, Mitch has thoughts of winning big in his tenure:
“Playing at this was always a dream of mine. I want to be part of the teams that hopefully win some ACC championships.”
(Update: 11:00a) We’ve seen SU stung by late decommitments, but also benefit from some last-minute switches. The latest in the latter department to help the Orange is 3-star offensive lineman Kendall Moore (Simeon Vocational HS, Chicago).
We caught up with Moore, who says he has officially signed his letter of intent with the Orange (although SU Athletics has yet to confirm that). The biggest revelation from Moore is that he’ll start off as a tight end.
“I’m going to play tight end for probably my first two years until I develop into a BCS tackle.”
If that’s true, it’s an interesting approach from the new SU coaching staff, albeit unconventional. We’ll see if the 6-5, 250-pounder is actually listed as a tight end when SU announces the signing.
Check out our conversation with Moore to hear how the coaches convinced him to switch his commitment from Western Michigan. Also, he reacts to his high school teammate Reggie Spearman ripping off a Syracuse hat at his press conference last night, and choosing Iowa instead. -Andrew Kanell
(Update: 10:39a) SU has lost out on a pair of recruits that were once very high on SU. According to Miami Harold reporter Darren Collette, 3-star Miami safety Simeon Thomas has signed with Louisiana-Lafayette. And Brian Dohn of scout.com says that Laray Smith will sign with Indiana. Thomas had SU high on his list, especially with his relationship with Coach George McDonald, who had been recruiting him since 9th grade.
It seems Smith will have the opportunity to run track at a nationally dominant program. About a month ago, the speedy tailback was all set to announce Cuse as his college choice, but was thrown for a loop when Coach Marrone and company fled to Buffalo. SU now does not have a RB commit in the class of 2013. -Kevin Fitzgerald
(Update: 10:22a) Offensive lineman Alexander Hayes signed with Syracuse this morning at 7 AM and told the Fizz how thrilled he is to be the newest member of Orange Nation.
“It feels great to be an Orangeman. I’m happy. This is where I really wanted to be. I’m glad they came through and gave me an offer. I can’t wait to get up and do big things on campus.”
Signing on that dotted line, Hayes says he was absolutely certain on choosing Orange.
“It’s time to go home baby. Syracuse is my home and it’s where I want to be. As I soon as I dated it, it was like time to grind. I can’t wait to get back in the weight room and back on the field running this afternoon.”
The 6’3” 285 lb. monster out of Atlanta, GA was a huge part of Tucker High School’s unstoppable running game. Tucker led its conference with an astounding 3,195 yards, 500 yards better than the runner-up. Hayes says his offensive line coaches compare the linemen to a particular animal.
“At Tucker we rushed the ball 24/7. I like to be a dog. I like to put my hands down on the ground and put you on the ground. I come out of my stance really well.”
With Justin Pugh NFL-draft bound, SU’s coaching staff informed Hayes he has the chance to start and play right away.
“I have the chance and ability. Get my footwork right. Come up and be prepared to fight.”
Hayes intends to be the top dog on Syracuse’s offensive line depth chart. He’s one of three offensive linemen in this year’s class, joining new OT Kendall Moore and LA Harbor JuCo commit John Miller. SU has a new catalyst on the line, and Hayes is fired up for the challenge. -Brendan Glasheen
(Updated: 10:15a) Brian Dohn of Scout reports Laray Smith signs with Indiana. Not surprising, but still disappointing. Who knows what happens to the NYC pipeline with the new coaching staff. Shafer and McDonald don’t have ties to the Big Apple. Marrone and Anselmo seemed to make it a pet project, not that it was time wasted.
New York City has now produced a number of Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami players in the last three years. But Smith was turned off by the coaching change, and looks to also be attracted to a top flight indoor track team as well.
Will SU continues to try and farm the pavement of the Big Apple, or has the pipeline to NYC run its course for the time being? SU grabbed Wayne Morgan there last year, and seemed to have Gus and Laray in the bag, along with the hope of Ebo. All three went elsewhere. -D.A.
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(Update: 9:52a) As Macklemore once poetically noted, one man’s trash is another man’s come up. Fascinating to watch what is happening at Miami, just hours after onetime SU commit Gus Edwards chooses the Hurricanes. The U is ground zero for finger pointing and distrust. The Canes withdrew their offer late of stud offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, only to offer it again. So now the hulking lineman is headed to Arkansas, and SoFla is buzzing. Kirkland says, “If they cross you once, they’ll cross you again.”
LB Matthew Thomas is Kirkland’s teammate and says he was turned off by the way UM treated Kirkland. He said “you can’t trust coaches who do that.” Florida recruiting guru Larry Bluestein tweeted “Right now, Miami Booker T. Washington and UM have some major fence mending to take care of. Losing Thomas was one thing, but Kirkland too!”
Booker T. Washington’s head coach Tim “Ice” Harris said this to the Miami Herald:
“I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude. I’ll never tell a kid not to go somewhere, but it’s tough for me to tell my kids to trust UM at this point. They don’t know when an offer is going to get pulled, if they’re going to do what they did to Denver today. He’s an All-American. I won’t stop anybody from going to UM, but I can tell you I’ll never help them again.”
And Edwards just traveled 1,500 miles south to be in the middle of that along with the NCAA investigation hanging over the head of university. You can’t beat the weather, the beach and the nightlife in Miami. More power to him. There’s also a hell of a tradition of NFL success he’s joining. But what an environment for Edwards to step into. -D.A.
But look at the weapons he brings to the table for SU. He’s one of the best high school kick returners in the country, bringing 5 of them back to the house this season. He is one of the best corners in the state of Florida, named the region’s top defensive player by the Palm Beach Post. And he can also play wide receiver, and McDonald told him he will be used in the slot at SU.
His high school coach compares him to Devin Hester. The Fizz has been begging for years that on the fast track of the Carrier Dome Syracuse should be recruiting speed, speed, and more speed. Make the Dome an ear-splitting, up-tempo, indoor arena ball place to play. Air it out, collect playmakers and have a unique identity. It’s the only major college football program that plays indoors. Make that an advantage.
McDonald pulled in three wideouts in just two weeks. It looks like he’s selling something to the pass catchers, which is great. And The Brizz can do it from multiple spots on the field. Estime could go bust, but his boom would be really loud. -D.A.
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(Update: 9:04a) There was some concern that Scott Shafer would not make a good head coach because of his reluctance to do media. Welcome to the big time, son. Scott Shafer’s media schedule includes his official press conference at 3:45 p.m. A spot with ESPNU at 4:35 pm. An interview with CBSSports.com at 4:45 pm. Then a sit-down with ESPNCNY at 4:55 p.m.
Hope he’s got all that media animosity out of his system. Being a college head coach is not like the NFL. The only thing that matters in the pros is what happens on Sundays. In college you are an ambassador of the program. You are primarily a salesman. You need to be able to glad hand and shmooze and be comfortable in front of the camera. Judging from his introductory presser, he’s a fast learner. -D.A.
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(Update: 8:53a) Brian Dohn from Scout has been working the Laray story. He just tweeted: “Just spoke to a coach at Xaverian High, and he said Laray Smith is yet to sign
#Indiana #Syracuse #UConn”
Meantime, remember way back when Syracuse was trying to work on standout running back Alvin Kamara? He said SU stood out, but it was going to be hard to top Nick Saban’s letter writing campaign. Well, a school did beat the Tide to Kamara. It just wasn’t the Orange. Ole Miss has the top recruit in the country, and now will get Kamara to sign too. What a haul for the Rebels.
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(Update: 8:46a) Months ago I penned a piece for The Fizz titled “Brooklyn Bounce: Wayne Williams is bringing so much swag it hurts.” He’s easily going to be one of the most quotable SU players the moment he steps into the locker room. And his recent comments Syracuse.com lived up to the rep.
Why didn’t he jump ship when all the rest of the NYC kids did – Gus, Laray, Ebo – after Marrone left? “I have my own opinion from everybody else. I knew Syracuse was the right move for me.” I like that answer.
What does he think about the players that did head elsewhere? “Either you’re down with us or you’re not. I don’t want to try to persuade anybody to come here if they don’t want to be down with something great.” I like that answer even more. -D.A.
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(Update: 8:40a) Check out our FizzCast archives for three of SU’s commits today. Listen to WR Corey Cooper analyze George McDonald, monster OL Alexander Hayes on the offense and QB Mitch Kimble tell us about his decision to come to Syracuse.
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(Update: 8:34a) Listen to a conversation with Malik Brown as he joined Fizz Radio Saturday on his way to Knoxville. Despite his verbal to SU he said he wanted to see the facilities and what UT could offer educationally. He said the toughest part of the process has been how time consuming and overwhelming it can be.
* * *
(Update: 8:24a) While Zach Allen seemed like the Golden Child throughout this process, the SU quarterback situation is actually fascinating even after his departure. Illinois product Mitch Kimble has now faxed in his LOI, meaning at the very least SU has two incoming signal callers. The Orange look to be deep in on Akeem Jones from Carol City, FL as well.
Kimble has serious talent, enough so that N.C. State was battling for him at the end. Not for nothing, the Wolfpack could end up with a top 25 class according to Rivals. Now look at the existing talent under center. There’s no sure bet in there. But the competition is going to be terrific going into Spring practice. Both Wilson and Kimble are big at 6’3″. I wouldn’t mind seeing either one of these young men push for the starting nod to show their moxie, and even if they don’t land the top spot be ready to QB the Orange for 3-4 years (with a redshirt). -D.A.
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(Update: 8:03a) Let me just say, I really appreciate and respect Isaiah Johnson. The DT from Eastern Christian has remained upbeat and optimistic throughout the SU offseason. He just faxed in his LOI and is now officially an Orange. His high school weathered national controversy when it was profiled by SI. The staff that recruited him to SU left in droves. Zach Allen was credited with being a terrific leader and rounding up all the SU recruits. But guess what happened? Zach bolted for TCU, and Johnson never wavered.
Isaiah has connected with incoming teammates, kept a smile on his face the entire process, and posted encouraging tweets on SU and his decision. Here’s a tip of the cap to a classy young man who will be embraced and cheered for inside the Carrier Dome. He had every right to leave. No one would have begrudged him. But not only did he respect the commitment, he had a terrific attitude the entire time. Well done, Zeek. Well done. -D.A.
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(Update: 7:48a) Very interesting tidbit courtesy of Michael Cohen’s tweet from the Post-Standard. “Spoke to Carol City HS coach Harold Barnwell last night. He said Syracuse has cooled on Simeon Thomas but still interested in Akeem Jones.”
It would be surprising if SU lost interest in Thomas, since it seemed McDonald has an amazing relationship with him. But it would make far more sense if Thomas is choosing Louisiana-Lafayette (as mentioned below) because he no longer has the SU option or the Orange told him he would be low on the depth chart. Would love to be a coffee mug inside the SU coaching staff war room to hear why they cooled on Thomas.
Also, Brian Dohn from Scout tweeted: “Got a message from RB Laray Smith, who is yet to announce his decision. Said Sunday
#Indiana was his leader #UConn #Syracuse” It’ll be a minor miracle if the Orange lands the speedster. It would be a huge addition to the running back situation, but it has seemed like the coaching change made Laray disinterested in the Orange. -D.A.
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(Update: 7:34a) Corey Cooper and Austin Wilson are officially Orange. Both were expected coming into today, but it doesn’t make their signings any less significant. Wilson was an important save for the new staff once Zach Allen left. Everything was shaky after Marrone departed, and Wilson seemed to be wavering big time. Then the new staff stepped in and allayed Wilson’s fears and kept a very good quarterback from going anywhere.
Cooper was straight up a Mailman delivery. The wide receiver was excited by McDonald’s offensive ideas, and how he talked about using Cooper. Gus is gone to Miami and Laray Smith might sign elsewhere too, meaning the running back depth is taking a hit. But with the loss of some major components of the passing attack in Sales and Lemon, to grab a number of wideouts like Cooper is huge. These two signings may have been expected, but we should remember how important they are as well. -D.A.
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(Update: 7:22a) Gus Edwards signs with Miami. The Staten Island running back ends up in the ACC, but not with the Orange. Even though CNY fans had realized this for some time, it still doesn’t erase how close Syracuse was to landing him.
Edwards took to the cameras, announcing in July on MSG Varsity he would be donning the Orange. It seemed wrapped up at that time. Gus told The Fizz, “[Syracuse] was #1 for a while. Then I got to the point where I knew I could trust the coaches because they had been recruiting me the hardest. When everything came down, I just had to pick the right place for me, and that place was Syracuse.”
Obviously, everything changed when Doug Marrone left. At the end it became a race between Miami and Florida State for the powerful running back. Had Marrone never left would he still be in Orange? Hard to say. Rarely (if ever) does SU beat the Canes and Noles to anyone. So if these two programs came calling late in the process, who’s to say Gus wouldn’t have flipped anyway? Although the vultures certainly started circling once Marrone left, so maybe if he never wavers the Canes and Noles don’t get involved. One thing is definite: Edwards has serious talent, and it was identified by two strong programs (Miami is definitely down but always has big talent). Had Gus stayed the Orange would’ve had a top-of-the-ACC caliber tailback coming in. It’s also a reminder the ol’ Big Apple connection is no longer what it used to be. Shafer and McDonald have no Big Apple ties, so who knows about the future of the NYC pipelines.
One thing hurts above all else: We all have been waiting for the best of the Empire State to stay home. It seemed like SU was inching closer. Ebo took a hard look. Edwards had committed. Ogundeko is going to Clemson. Edwards to Miami. Both in the ACC. New York is producing some high level talent and it’s still not enrolling at SU. -D.A.
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(Update: 7:10a) The story of Simeon Thomas will come to a conclusion at 9:30a this morning. That’s the time Thomas tweeted Signing Day would “kick off in Carol City” (his hometown). The three-star DB from Florida seemed to be shading Syracuse last week. But in the ensuing days that has become less certain. Hawaii is in the mix big time, but 247 Sports reported he’ll choose Lousiana-Lafayette. It would truly be a head scratcher if Thomas waves off the ACC for the Sun Belt.
It would also hurt to lose Thomas if with some of the recent Malik Brown news. Brown is another defensive stud from Florida the Orange is chasing, and feelings are and the Vols have stepped up their recruiting game in a big way over the last two months. Tennessee figures to be in the top 25 of all classes when the dust settles. Interestingly, the Orange already has four commits from Florida. The George McDonald connection obviously has helped there. -D.A.
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(Update: 6:07a) With Signing Day officially here, it’s time to look at Syracuse’s late battles. We already brought you the odds on the Syracuse 7. On Tuesday night, SU learned it had gone 1-for-2 in the Chicago Sweepstakes. Here’s three hotly contested recruits still undeclared just hours before the letters will be faxed over.
RB Laray Smith
3-star 6’1”, 185 lbs Xavarian HS (Brooklyn, NY)
Choices: Syracuse, Indiana, Connecticut
What once looked like an easy trail to the Cuse for Smith, may now lead elsewhere. The speedy back will be choosing between Indiana, UConn and SU on Wednesday, but many reports indicate Laray won’t be heading to the Salt City. He had a fantastic relationship with former Syracuse coaches Doug Marrone and John Anselmo, but once they left for Buffalo, the Brooklyn native was thrown for a loop. Smith has been looking into possibilities of running track as well at college and there’s no hiding the fact that the Hoosiers have one of the best programs in the country. It seemed certain the thunder and lightning combination of Smith and Tottenville RB Augustus Edwards was destined for Cuse a couple months ago. Now it’s a long shot to reel in Smith alone.
QB Akeem Jones
3-star 6’3”, 205 lbs Miami Carol City HS (Miami, Fl)
Choices: Syracuse, Marshall
Simeon Thomas’ teammate visited the Hill this past weekend and was blown away by the trip. Even despite the fact that SU doesn’t have much of a shot to land Thomas anymore according to reports, Syracuse seems to be in the lead in landing the versatile Jones. Cuse offered the dual threat QB a few weeks ago. He could become the third QB of the 2013 class along with Pennsylvania signal caller Austin Wilson and Northern Illinois flip Mitch Kimble. The Miami native has a quick trigger and can also get it done on the ground. There is a good chance the Orange can land Jones on National Signing Day.
DE Malik Brown
3-star 6’3”, 250 lbs Dwyer HS (West Palm Beach, Fl)
Choices: Syracuse, Tennessee, South Florida
Brown has had the most tumultuous last few weeks dealing with trips and in home coaches visits, but the highly sought after DE will choose between Syracuse, Tennessee and USF on Wednesday. Brown traveled to Knoxville this past weekend, but has been in contact with SU’s Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bullough and George McDonald all week. He told The Fizz he loves Bullough’s energy and enthusiasm. Regardless, this is huge for Syracuse to keep Brown; the other two wavering “Marrone recruits” – RB Augustus Edwards and LB Devan Carter – both decommitted within the last week. He’ll decide at noon.-Fitz