Last week, Syracuse offered a football scholarship to 4-star offensive lineman Gabe Megginson from Jacksonville, Illinois. This week the team offered one to 5’8’,’ 161-pound Ryan Davis, a 4-star wide receiver from St. Petersburg, Florida.
Both Megginson and Davis have offers from more successful Divison 1 programs, and neither player has visited SU yet, but Davis has said he is interested.
This offseason, the Orange is trying to make the jump from a team that strictly lands 2- and 3-star guys to a program that signs a few elite 4-star recruits every year. And it all starts in Illinois and Florida.
Scott Shafer is to Illinois what offensive coordinator George McDonald is to the south. Both coaches have excellent connections in these respective regions because of prior coaching jobs, which has certainly benefited Syracuse. Shafer coached at Northern Illinois and the University of Illinois, and McDonald coached at the University of Miami.
For this season, the Orange brings in six players from Illinois and eight players from either Florida or Georgia. Looking at potential 2015 recruits, SU is once again linked with many players from these areas. Landing the massive offensive lineman Denzel Ward from Chicago and the talented receiver Steve Ishmael from Miami proves the Orange can compete with bigger programs and still land skilled recruits because of Shafer and McDonald. Both 3-star recruits, Ward and Ishmael could be great players and may even see time in their freshman seasons.
Additionally, 2014 4-star recruit KJ Williams (as well as Ward and Ishmael) can have a massive impact on how other players with similar skill sets view the Orange in the future. If SU’s first 4-star recruit in over 10 years is able to come in and play right away, players like Megginson and Davis will notice. Syracuse is not a national powerhouse, but the Orange can offer something to elite recruits the major programs cannot: playing time. By allowing talented freshman to come in and make an impact, Syracuse’s recruiting will benefit. Between Shafer’s knowledge of Illinois, McDonald’s ability to recruit in the south and the fact that Syracuse can offer certain high school football players immediate playing time in the ACC, the Orange has what it takes to bring in better talent.
Shafer and company still have plenty of work to do. The Orange is the only team in the ACC to not yet have a 2015 commit. Syracuse offering 4-star recruits is nothing new and it will take much longer than one year to begin to consistently land 4-star guys, but the program is definitely headed in the right direction.
Posted by: Connor Morrissette