Thomas Holley is reportedly down to Penn State and Florida. Just another New York State big recruit who will leave the region and play for a bigger program. He had been courted by SU for years, and visited campus in the summer. Will Syracuse ever land the big fish?
It’s fair to wonder. The Lincoln High defensive lineman stands 6-foot-4, 285-pounds and is rated as the No. 3 DT in the nation for ’14. And because he’s so highly coveted, the Orange couldn’t land him. Same old story.
The trend is sickening for Orange fans. Ebenezer Ogundeko chose Clemson. Chad Kelly also chose the Tigers. Jarron Jones and Ishaq Williams went to Notre Dame. Dominique Easley picked Florida. Gus Edwards went to Miami.
They’ve all had varying degrees of success. Ishaq was supposed to be the monster SU sought. As a junior this year he only tallied 3 tackles, and no sacks. Edwards ran for 300 yards and 4 scores as a true freshman at the U. As a freshman Kelly played some mop up duty in blowouts.
Jones is a redshirt freshman and has seen limited time with the Irish because of work ethic. Coach Brian Kelly said:
“We were looking for a consistent effort. We think he’s got a lot of skill and great size. We wanted to see that fire every single play, and I liked what he did in the couple of weeks that he was down with (the prep team). That’s why we elevated him back with our varsity group.”
Ogundeko is redshirting at Clemson. Easley had a successful career at UF, although suffered an ACL injury. He’s departing early for the NFL Draft this spring.
Would it have been better for these players to attend Syracuse and be a bigger fish in a smaller pond? More playing time, less competition for snaps, more experience, better career? For some, definitely in a football sense. For a guy like Easley, heading to the Gators likely helped out his potential draft stock. For their growth, education and development as a person, it’s anyone’s guess.
Bowl games are an extremely important goal to achieve in college football, and Syracuse is making that a habit. Three in four years means recruits can solidly point to the Hill and know the postseason is the expectation, not the anomaly. But with 6/7 win seasons, and some sparsely attended games at the Dome, it still feels like SU is far away from grabbing one of these headline recruits.
Then again the ACC affiliation helps. A new indoor facility would help. And maybe when you see how these players careers have panned out, it’s not always the stars next to the name. It’s what’s inside that’s most valuable for the Orange.