Today is the day! The 2021 Syracuse Football Commits put pen to paper and finalize their intentions to spend the next part of their lives on the Hill. The Orange look to bring in 20 new players to the ‘Ohana’ and add Florida transfer Chris Bleich to the fold after sitting out for a year.
This article covers the signees that can be immediate impacts and will ultimately become GAME CHANGERS for this Syracuse Football Team. These select few players are the Fizz’s picks for who will have the BIGGEST impact at SU over the next handful of seasons, and could take this program from 1-10, to new heights.
(It should come as no surprise that the first four of our five picks for game changers are the four best recruits in SU’s 2021 class.)
Darian “Duce” Chestnut, Cornerback
As the top prospect in this class, Chestnut has lofty expectations from the SU faithful and recruiting industries. This was a huge recruiting win for Dino Babers and Company and figures to pay dividends in the future. With Andre Cisco and Trill Williams off to the NFL, Syracuse needs to find its future star in the secondary. Well, look no further than Chestnut, he’s an immediate plug and play corner who can simply do it all. For a more in depth look at his game click here.
Justin Lamson, Quarterback
The dual-threat quarterback prospect could end up being the best player on this entire list. Lamson is an Ian Book understudy and his game is comparable to former SU gunslinger Eric Dungey. The west coast product brings a great mix of athleticism and arm talent to the quarterback position that Syracuse simply doesn’t have. The Babers “OITNF” offense is at its best when the quarterback can get involved in the run game. Lamson brings that dimension to the offense, immediately.
We interviewed Lamson ahead of signing day and he covered his high school career and training experience with Ian Book.
Enrique Cruz, Offensive Tackle
According to the 247sports.com rankings, Cruz is actually SU’s highest rated commit in the 2021 class. The 247sports.com 4 star is a blue chip, Midwest recruit that could’ve gone anywhere he wanted. At 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, Cruz has the physical tools to step in and grab a starting job on the SU offensive line. Syracuse fans know all to well how much the o-line has struggled the past two seasons. But with Cruz and Bleich in the fold, Syracuse actually goes from a terrible unit, to a very talented one. Your top-five are now Aaron Servais, Enrique Cruz, Carlos Vettorello, Chris Bleich, and Matthew Bergeron.
The point is that Cruz steps in and immediately elevates the talent in the room and has the ability to play on day 1 (which is one of the reasons he decided to come to SU). Even if he takes a redshirt season to add weight to his frame, it’s a long term investment into an incredibly promising future.
Umari Hatcher, Wide Receiver
Another huge win on the recruiting trail for The ‘Cuse. This recruitment process was quite eventful, and the Orange beat out several powers for Hatcher’s services including Indiana, Liberty, Michigan State, and Maryland.
Babers always refers to the wideouts as his “babies.” After witnessing the big year Taj Harris had as the go to guy, fans have to be excited about adding Hatcher into the mix. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, “Showtime” is a deadly mix of size and speed that Syracuse didn’t have on the roster this season.
Additionally, Hatcher is polished enough to play immediately on the outside. He can win jump balls and is a crisp route runner, but SU may not even need him in 2021. However, the point remains… Syracuse needs a Jamal Custis type receiver again on the outside, a difference-maker and Hatcher is that guy.
More in depth coverage of Hatcher’s game available here.
Josh Hough, Running Back
Now we know what you’re thinking, “What? He’s the lowest rated recruit in this class, how is he a game changer?” Hough leaves Beaver Falls High School as the all-time leading rusher with over 2,000 career yards on the ground. He’s 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and is nicknamed “The Big General.”
Hough is the 1980-prototype back that’s found his way into the 21st century. He doesn’t have that elite raw speed, but he plays hard and plays the game fast. Hough has that unique size combo that SU doesn’t have in the running back room now or perhaps has had in the Babers era. This is kind of a shot in the dark, but we believe the Derrick Henry-type back will make a huge bang in the 315.