Now that basketball season has officially come to a close and football season is still five months away, it’s time to turn our collective attention back to the recruiting scene. The basketball team is making some late-cycle noise with a skilled European center on his way for a visit next week, but it’s the football team that made the biggest moves of the weekend.
The Orange picked up a pair of commitments from linemen on Saturday and Sunday and although both of them will play in the trenches, they are starkly different players. One is an offensive tackle, the other is a defensive end. One is a grad transfer with just one year of eligibility left, while the other is the Orange’s first commit in the class of 2020 and is still a full season away from arriving on campus. Either way, it’s good to see Dino Babers and company are back to work on the recruiting trail.
OT Ryan Alexander – Grad Transfer (South Alabama)
Alexander was the first of the pair to commit over the weekend and did so after enjoying a visit to Central New York:
— Ryan Alexander (@RyElCabra) March 23, 2019
Alexander started all 24 games at right tackle over the last two seasons for South Alabama out of the Sun Belt Conference and he did so at a pretty high level. He was named Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt after last season. He also started four games at left tackle for the Jaguars as a redshirt freshman.
At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, Alexander is slightly undersized at the tackle spot (both of last year’s starting tackles, Cody Conway and Koda Martin, are 6-foot-6), but what he lacks in length, he makes up for with some pretty good athleticism. Alexander is a converted tight end who also played lacrosse in high school on Long Island (homecoming?) so his ability to get to the second level and use his footwork and quickness to his advantage will be a huge perk for him in the ACC. He’s also great at finishing his blocks and playing right up until the end of plays. On a side note, could you imagine a 6-foot-3, near 300-pounder coming at you on the lacrosse field? That’s just scary.
Outside of his athleticism, the best thing that Alexander brings to Syracuse is some much-needed experience. With both Conway and Martin graduating, SU was looking at a pair of gaping holes at tackle. In the first depth chart of the season, those holes were filled by a redshirt freshman with no game experience in Carlos Vettorello and a converted center in Airon Servais. With Alexander added into the mix, you get some much needed game experience at tackle that neither of the other guys can provide. It’s not a guarantee that Alexander will be a starter, but after the grad transfer route worked wonderfully with Martin last season, don’t be surprised if you see the big man from Floral Park, NY get the start on August 31st.
DE Kevin Lemieux – Class of 2020 (The Governor’s Academy)
Just a day after picking up the commitment from Alexander in the grad transfer market, the Orange landed another recruit on Sunday, but this one was their first in the class of 2020:
— Kevin Lemieux (@kev_lemieux) March 24, 2019
A Massachusetts native, Lemieux will be entering his senior season at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, MA this fall. He is currently rated as a three-star prospect according to 247sports and is the 32nd ranked strong-side defensive end in his class.
Unlike Alexander, Lemieux already has good size for his future position at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds (Alton Robinson is 6-4, 257 and Kendall Coleman is 6-3, 252) so he’ll likely only have to put on a couple of pounds and add some strength to fill out his frame and look like your prototypical edge rusher.
In watching the limited amount of tape that is out there on him, the thing that pops of the screen for Lemieux is his first-step, quickness and instincts off the line of scrimmage. He almost always times up the snap well and is incredibly fast in getting to the ball carrier because he diagnoses the play quickly and makes a bee line for the football. Perhaps the most exciting part is that he can do it when he lines up with his hand in the dirt and when he’s a stand-up rusher off the edge.
Right now, he’s dominating the high school level because he’s faster and bigger than everyone so he’ll have to add a bit more finesse and technique to his game to be great at the college level, but that will almost certainly come with time as it does for most players. With the way he works and the motor and willingness he has to finish plays and tackles in the open field, he’ll be a welcome addition to the Syracuse Ohana. Both Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman only have one year left on campus and Lemieux will provide future depth for the Orange when they move on.