SU’s 2021 recruiting class just got even better. Top wide receiver prospect Umari Hatcher has decided to play his college ball at Syracuse. The Orange already seem to have their QB of the future in Justin Lamson. Now he has another weapon to work with.
Hatcher chose SU over Indiana, Michigan State, Maryland, Liberty, and East Carolina. Syracuse offered him in late February with cornerbacks coach Chip West serving as the primary recruiter. Hatcher also had offers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Temple.
Hatcher is a six-foot-three, 175 pound receiver from Woodbridge, Virginia where people know him as “showtime.” He’s given a 3-star rating by the 247sports.com composite (combination of all sites’ rankings), the 104th best wide receiver in the country, and the 27th overall player in the state of Virginia. 247sports.com is slightly more bullish on him, giving him an 87 overall rating, on the cusp of 4 star status and they have him as the 104th best wideout and 19th in the state. He joins Kendall Long as the second WR in the 2021 class.
In 2019, Hatcher was a big contributor to Freedom High School making the second round of the Virginia 6A playoffs. He lined up at both receiver and corner for the Eagles. He earned all-state selection for the 6A class with a solid junior campaign, catching 56 passes for 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns. Heading into his senior season, he made Maxpreps 2020 Virginia Preseason All-State 1st Team Offense.
Dino Babers has recruited the position well in the past and seems to have found his prototypical boundary receiver prospect. Last year, it was Damien Alford, who stands six-foot-five, 210 pounds. In 2018 it was Ed Hendrix (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) who has yet to emerge at Syracuse. It’s clear that Babers is targeting big guys that can hold their own on the outside against elite ACC corners.
- Hatcher is the future at “z,” the boundary receiver. He’s primarily split out there even at the high school level. He does his best work when he has space to use and as the boundary receiver he has it. He is a very fluid route runner and sells his fakes well. At 6-3, he’s also a guy that can go up and get it and as the “z” he needs to be able to do that at the college level.
- He has incredible acceleration and straight line speed. He’s often used in the screen game and does a great job changing speeds once the blocks are set up and once he hits that top gear, he’s very difficult to catch.
- Going back to the route running, his footwork is incredible. A lot of wideout prospects tend to get open at the high school level with pure speed and acceleration. Hatcher can get open with speed as well, but what’s more impressive is the separation he gets on double moves and certain situations where it’s his agility that gets him open. As a junior he ran curl-and-go’s, “sluggos,” and what seemed to be his favorite was the fade. For example, at the 5:45 mark, he’s the single set wide-out, this time nearest to the sideline though (definitely by design, wink-wink). His setup route looks to be a skinny post, so he works slightly diagonal to the inside, but at the 15 yard line he sticks his foot in the ground and goes vertical leaving a window on the outside for his qb to throw the ball to his back shoulder. The ball is perfectly placed and Hatcher makes the catc, Touchdown! You’ll be seeing a lot of that on the hill in the future.
Hatcher is a huge pickup for SU. He spurned solid Big Ten opportunities to stay in the ACC and chose the Orange over the in-state Hokies. With his measurables and playing style, he reminds me of Taj Harris, who figures to be SU’s WR1 in 2020.
Harris is one of the few veterans that didn’t redshirt as a freshman. Instead, Babers played him in 12 games in 2018 and set Syracuse freshman records for both catches (40) and receiving yards (565). By the time Hatcher is enrolled and on campus, this time next year, SU figures to return a lot more production outside.
That being said, Babers may not need Hatcher to play as a freshman, but he certainly has the ability to. He could see early time in 4 and 5-wide sets. In any case, Babers stole a good one from Virginia. Hatcher has all the tools to be the future of the wide receiver position at Syracuse.