For the past week and change, the entire sports world has been put on hold as global efforts to contain COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus continue to persist. We haven’t seen a live sporting event in quite some time and nobody is really sure when the next one is coming.
While the on-field/on-court product has been temporarily suspended, there’s still plenty of behind-the-scenes work going on and for collegiate programs, that means that recruiting efforts are persisting albeit with some restrictions on travel and in-person meetings. But apparently those restrictions aren’t slowing down Dino Babers and the SU football coaching staff.
Terry Lockett pledged to Syracuse just before 6:00 p.m. on Sunday night and in doing so became the Orange’s first commitment in the 2021 class. Lockett is rated as a three-star defensive tackle by 247Sports who also has the Springfield, MA native slated as a Top 800 recruit and a top 50 defensive tackle recruit in the country.
At 6-foot-1, 255 pounds, Lockett is a stocky and sturdy interior defensive lineman with a chance to pack on more weight and muscle in his one remaining season of high school football and when he eventually makes his way to SU. For a bit of context, last year’s starting DTs, Josh Black (6-3, 270) and Kenneth Ruff (6-1, 308) both put on 30+ pounds from high school. So, if Lockett can do the same, he has the ability to grow and mature into a middle-of-the-line nose tackle type in Tony White’s new 3-3-5 defense.
On top of a good frame to build upon, Lockett will also bring a winning pedigree to Central New York. His high school team at Springfield Central in Western Massachusetts has won two consecutive Division 3 state championships. In the 2019 season, Central lost two of their first three games before rattling off eight consecutive wins and outscoring their opponents 426-52 over the last two months of the season. That included 5 straight shut-out wins where the average margin of victory was 53.8 ppg. That’s what we like to call dominance.
Now, when you think about what a defensive tackle is, you probably think somebody along the lines of a Vince Wilfork-type, a run-stopping mauler in the middle of the lane who plugs holes with size and brute force. While Lockett has both of those features and like we said could easily grow into a guy in that traditional DT-mold, there’s so much more to his game than just that.
He’s incredibly athletic and fluid for his size and has the ability to square up smaller, shiftier and quicker ball carriers for open-field stops or get off his blocker for tips and quite a few interceptions (he does this quite a bit in his tape). That kind of athleticism has led him to line up as an edge rusher or end in most of his high school tape and don’t put it past Syracuse to that against with him in college.
If he decides to stay a bit leaner and adds a some more quickness and pass-rushing moves to his arsenal, he could easily become a do-it-all lineman that lines up at multiple spots. That kind of versatility and potential makes him extremely intriguing moving forward and could see him morph into a guy like Josh Black who can rush the passer (4 sacks in 2019) while also playing the traditional nose-tackle spot.
SU is set to graduate both Black and DT McKinley Williams (who is listed as the starter at NT on the Orange’s first spring depth chart) after the 2020 season and has signed mainly true defensive ends in guys like Drew Tuazama and Latarie Kinsler over the last few cycles with Joe Rondi being the only true DT signing over the last three years. If Lockett can continue to flash the potential and promise that his tape suggests, he’ll have an opportunity to compete for relatively early playing time when he gets to SU.