Whenever a conference opponent, much less a bitter rival, comes to the Carrier Dome, it’s a perfect opportunity for SU to put its best foot forward and host recruits and commits to showcase the program as well as the University. Dino Babers and company did just that this past weekend when perennial rival Pittsburgh rolled into Central New York.
Over 50 recruits came to watch the Orange edge out the Panthers, 27-24, with most of them being younger guys in the classes of 2019 or 2020. However, there was a pair of older guys that could make an immediate impact next year who visited campus this weekend and SU fans should definitely know who they are and how they could fit into next year’s edition of the Orange. So with that in mind, let’s meet former high school teammates turned class of 2018 recruits Edward Hendrix and DuWayne Johnson.
The younger of the two guys in this profile, Hendrix is a wide receiver that will enter the 2018 season as a true freshman in Central New York. He committed to the Orange back in August over offers from schools like Indiana, Boston College, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Typically rated as a 3-star recruit by major recruiting services such as Scout.com and 247sports.com, some services think he’s a bit more special than that. ESPN ranks Hendrix as a 4-star prospect and the 79th best wide receiver in his class, much better than the 86th and 115th rating that 247sports and Scout attach to him respectively.
In a 2018 recruiting class that already boasts 4-star talent in both Tyrone Sampson and Qadir White, some experts (again ESPN) think that Hendrix is Syracuse’s top commit in the class. While that’s a bit up in the air, what’s not is the fact that Hendrix is far away and the best skill position recruit for the Orange and it’s easy to see why. Standing at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Hendrix is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s a consistent deep threat that can beat you over the top and can use his fantastic size to go up and bring down jump balls. If he puts on some more muscle who could be a taller (and possibly more lethal) version of Steve Ishmael, who’s proven that he fits excellently in the Dino Babers system. One of Hendrix’s other intriguing qualities is his deceptive quickness. He moves very well for a guy his size and while he may not have Erv Philips type speed, he can beat opposing defensive backs off the line of scrimmage and open up huge gaps in the secondary. He’s shown the ability to do big things against both man and zone coverage and SU fans should be incredibly excited that he’ll be on the Hill next season.
No, Syracuse is not recruiting The Rock. The other product of Howard D. Woodson High School in Washington D.C. was also in Central New York over the weekend, but missed the game versus Pitt because he had a game to play himself. Despite not being in the Dome for the game, Johnson sure seemed to have a positive outlook on the Orange.
Good win last night now flight to Syracuse for official visit🍊
— Duwayne Johnson (@Fitch_boss) October 8, 2017
Originally a Virginia Tech recruit in the class of 2015, Johnson left the Hokies at the end of last year and went on to sign with Arizona Western College in the juco ranks. As soon as Johnson stepped away from the Hokies and went to the Matadors, Dino Babers and company jumped at the chance to give him an offer. Because he is in juco right now, the 21-year-old cornerback is only ranked by 247sports.com and Scout.com, both of which tout him as a 3-star recruit and within the top 65 best cornerback prospects in the 2018 class. When he was originally coming out of high school and decided on Virginia Tech, ESPN also rated him 3 stars, but considered him to be the 44th best corner in the class of 2015.
While he isn’t super highly-touted, this guy can still play. Standing at 6-foot-2, 174 pounds, he’s much bigger than your typical cornerback (SU’s corners average 5-foot-11). This height plays directly into his playing style as he is your prototypical ballhawk. Johnson flies all over the field and uses his height advantage to high-point balls and create takeaways that other corners of a smaller stature may not be able to make. That turnover-creating ability could really help SU, a team that only has 4 interceptions through the first six games of the season. He also has a relentless motor when he’s on the field. Just by watching tape of him, you can see that this guy wants to make his presence felt. No matter if the ball goes to the opposite side of the field from him, he always seems to get involved in the end result of the play simply through sheer hustle. While SU’s secondary has looked pretty good at times this season, there is certainly some room for improvement for the defensive backs and Johnson could help to bridge that gap. Not only that, but other juco recruits like Ravian Pierce and Alton Robinson have shown that they can make an immediate impact in their first seasons on campus, so fans should definitely be looking out for Johnson’s decision. It won’t be easy to get Johnson on the Hill though. He also boasts offers from Arkansas, Iowa State, Missouri and Washington State.