Obviously, the 2017 season did not end how Syracuse football fans expected or wanted in an abysmal loss to Boston College on Saturday. The Orange missed a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season and left its seniors without a bowl berth their collegiate careers. Not exactly the way you want to send out the likes of Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett. But, now it’s time to move on and look forward to next season, or maybe even the seasons after that. In the past week, SU made a number of offers in the class of 2019 to plug up some holes, including the weak run game and what turned into a much-maligned secondary. Let’s meet the trio of potential Orange who received an offer from Dino Babers and company from SU over the weekend.
The first position that SU sought to improve in the past week came in the offensive backfield where it offered a pair of recruits the first of which is Josh Henderson from the Hun School in New Jersey. Although he is yet to be ranked or rated by any of the major recruiting services, there’s a lot to like about the youngster. He ran for over 1,400 yards, averaging over 12 yards per carry, this season for the Hun School, a season in which the Raiders finished 8-1. Although the stats are wildly impressive for Henderson, his tape shows that he can be something even more special with some time and development. He has good size at 6-foot, 200 pounds, but he won’t beat you with his speed. It’s there when he gets into the open field, but that’s not the mainstay of his game. What Henderson does really well is changing directions and making smart, educated cuts that allow him to get by defenders and kick it into another gear. He’s also shown a knack for catching passes out of the backfield, a skill that can be incredibly potent in the up-tempo Syracuse offense. It won’t be easy for Henderson to head to Central New York, however. He also boasts offers from Boston College, Temple and Toledo.
Later in the same day, Jordan Houston of the Flint Hill School in Virginia became the second running back in the same day receive an offer from Syracuse. Rated as a 3-star prospect by 247sports.com, Houston is a different type of back when you compare him to Henderson. Standing at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, he’s much smaller than Henderson and, as such, comes with a different skillset. Unlike Henderson, Houston is an absolute burner that simply toasts defenders with his speed. If we’re making comparisons to SU players from the past season, Houston would be the Moe Neal to Henderson’s Dontae Strickland. Not only can Houston use his speed to burn you in the running game, he’s also a very adept pass catcher who makes his money in the passing game on downfield routes where he gets into space against linebackers or slower defensive backs and makes them pay. While his size may be a concern for some, he compares pretty closely to a guy like Bryce Love from Stanford who has had an outstanding season for the Cardinal and averages nearly 9 yards per carry. SU will have to contend with the likes of Penn State, Virginia Tech and Boston College for Houston’s services.
A few days after SU made an attempt to shore up its weak running game, it made an offer to its most highly-touted prospect of the week to try to shore up the middle of its secondary. Safety Briton Allen of Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, FL is rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN and ranks 255th in its ESPN 300 rankings. Standing at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, he’s got the prototypical size of a safety and will probably bulk up once he gets to college which can only serve to make him more effective. When you watch his highlight tape, there’s one thing that jumps off the screen: boy can this kid lay the boom. Allen is your archetypal hard-hitting safety and that style of play led him to force three fumbles this high school season to go along with an interception. While a lot of times this kind of big-hit style can result in missed tackles, Allen also shows the ability to make good, solid, sound tackles in the open field and stays at home without letting opponents make him miss. He’s equally adept at defending both the run and pass which makes him a versatile option in the secondary moving forward for Syracuse if the Orange can find a way to entice him to the Hill. He’s also a dangerous kick and punt returner and scored a total of five all-purpose touchdowns on the season. His diverse skillset plus his room for growth make Allen a valuable recruit moving forward and the rest of the country has noticed. South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State and Maryland have all also Allen and the Florida native has also received attention from Auburn, Florida and Ohio State.