At this time last year,¬†Syracuse had twice as many commitments¬†as it does right now. But Scott Shafer isn‚Äôt chasing a numbers game. Doug Marrone’s staff felt it had to pile up commits early to build the program. Shafer wants the best individuals players that are interested in team ball. So add 6‚Äô1‚Äù 215 lb. Zaire Franklin to the equation. The 3-star LB became SU‚Äôs third commit for the ’14 this weekend and according to Rivals he is the highest rated linebacker prospect to chose the Orange in over a decade.
SU beat out schools such as Arizona, Pittsburgh, UConn and Boston College for the Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania product (which is right outside of Philly). Franklin is ranked as the 20th¬†best linebacker in the country, and is the third best 3-star prospect in the class. The La Salle College HS product told Syracuse.com that he was sold on the Syracuse environment, which felt real to him.
‚ÄúEvery one wants to tell you they have a family atmosphere. At the end of the day, only a very, very few preach that and Coach Shafer is a great guy and Coach Lea and Coach Bullough and Coach Daoust, they really believe in family.‚Äù
This is a terrific commitment to get things sparked in June. Franklin already has great size heading into his senior year. Imagine what he can accomplish in the weight room. He‚Äôs already bigger than nearly half of SU‚Äôs current linebacker corps. His fundamentals are sound, and he moves around like a top-tier college LB. Franklin‚Äôs pursuit to the football is electrifying, and his footwork when dropping back into coverage is coordinated and solid. He has a true athletic build and he should fit in nicely to a blitz-heavy defense that Shafer and Chuck Bullough like to run.
Franklin also has a great ability to change directions and adjust to play-action. The athleticism is really off the charts, and he has an uncanny knack for the football. His tackling is pure and he wraps up much better than you‚Äôd expect from a high school junior. Most recruiting sites list him as an outside linebacker, but he surely has the potential to play middle if he puts on a little more muscle.
The 3-star PA native visited the Hill this weekend and stayed with LB Cameron Lynch. He committed the day after he returned to his hometown, and seemed excited to spread the Syracuse name. Franklin received a¬†ton of congratulatory tweets¬†from fellow class of¬†’14 commit QB AJ Long, and together, the two are helping SU recruit others as well.
Franklin is only one body, but he comes in at the perfect time. Syracuse will lose Marquis Spruill after this season, but the next group will be poised with a ton of senior leadership. In ’14, mainstays Dyshawn Davis, Cam Lynch and JuCo transfers Luke Arciniega and Josh Kirkland will all be seniors. Add in talented rising stars like James Washington and freshman Marqez Hodge, and Franklin will be surrounded by one nasty group down the road.
Franklin also comes from an area where Syracuse is poised for more success: southeastern Pennsylvania. It‚Äôs an area where players like Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh and Jarrod West hail from. Zaire is ready to recruit some of his teammates at La Salle and other players from the surrounding area.
Shafer took over as Syracuse‚Äôs head coach in the middle of January, and since then he has brought in nine 3-star prospects. The talent is getting better and better, and Franklin is no exception either. There‚Äôs no other family the LB would rather be a part of.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald