If Dino Babers’ name is associated with any position in football, it is certainly the wide receiver. Over the past decade, the current Syracuse head coach has unearthed and unleashed guys like Josh Gordon, Terrance Williams, Roger Lewis, and, most recently, some dude named Amba Etta-Tawo. In all, Babers claims to have sent at least 25 wideouts to the professional level.
Babers doesn’t just push talented receivers to the NFL — he also pulls talented receivers to his collegiate teams. The receiver conveyer belt begins in high school, and Babers has placed a clear emphasis on pass-catchers in the Orange’s incoming class. Even after Josh Palmer, the highest-rated receiver in SU’s class, dumped the team last week, Syracuse has locked down four commitments from 2017 wideouts. The group is a collective blur, with two guys who have clocked preposterous 40-yard dash times (reports say that Nykeim Johnson ran a 4.42, while Russell Thompson-Bishop blazed an astonishing 4.38), and will be hauling in missiles from highly-touted quarterback Tommy DeVito.
While next year’s freshmen project to be exciting, Babers is already working to ensure that the position remains a strong suit in the future. Yesterday, SU offered two 2018 wide receivers who have flown somewhat under the radar: Florida natives Cadarius Gaskin and Marvin Alexander Jr. aren’t ranked by the major recruiting sites (though that should change later in the process), but each offers a desirable skillset that could lead to enormous numbers in Babers’ up-tempo system.
Gaskin is the more highly-touted of the two — he holds offers from West Virginia, NC State, and Rutgers (his Twitter bio asserts that he’s a three-star recruit). He’s being courted to the Wolf Pack by none other than George McDonald, NC State’s current wide receivers coach and Syracuse’s old offensive coordinator.
Gaskin is listed at 6-foot-4 on 247sports, Scout, and Hudl, while ESPN pegs him at 6-foot-2, and each site agrees that he weighs at least 200 pounds. Hudl reports Gaskin’s 40-yard dash time at 4.64, painting the Atlantic H.S. product as a marauding presence on the outside who plucks jump balls, discards tacklers with the rock in his hands, and throws devastating blocks in the running game.
Gaskin offered the Fizz a scouting report on himself via Twitter direct message: “I’m physical [off] the line and I can attack the ball in the air.” He models his game after Atlanta Falcons superstar Julio Jones, who possesses similar size. That’s obviously an ambitious comparison, but Gaskin certainly has the physical tools to emulate the perennial Pro Bowler.
Alexander, meanwhile, received three offers in a two-day span this week, but SU’s was the only one from a Power Five school (the other two were courtesy of East Carolina and Southern Mississippi). Even though the 6-foot-1, 175-pound wideout hasn’t piled up offers from blue blood programs, his highlight tape reveals an immensely-talented player.
The first play in that video is downright (and this isn’t sarcastic) Odell-esque. Alexander’s affinity for the spectacular catch jumps off the screen, as does his ability to track down long bombs. Alexander appears to have more straight-line speed than Gaskin — but each possesses a unique skillset that would add a dangerous element to the Orange’s offense.
Syracuse is still waiting on its first commit in the Class of 2018. Gaskin or Alexander would represent a nice way to open the festivities.