Today we continue our deep dive into the 2016 Syracuse Football recruiting class with prospects 6-10. We covered 1-5 earlier this week and will go all the way through the 21 players on the database. Hopefully this deep dive gives you an idea of the trajectory of the recruiting of Dino Babers and can explain why some positions have struggled over the past two seasons.
6. Devin Butler – 3 star ATH
- Representing the DMV recruiting hotbed, Butler was just a football player in every sense of the word. He played defensive back and quarterback in high school and was tabbed the 5th best safety prospect in Maryland by scout.com. Syracuse opted to play him at wide receiver and he played five games in his freshman season and appeared on special teams as well. Only 12 true freshmen from that ‘16 class played in their first season.
- Injuries derailed his inaugural showing, but Butler came back and started 9 games in 2017 and played in all 12. He hauled in 33 passes for 327 yards, good for third on the same team that Ervin Phillips and Steve Ishamel played.
- In 2018 Butler started five games outside and played in all 12 but seemingly regressed. He was supposed to be WR1 coming into the season, but missed the Pitt game due to violation of team rules. From there Taj Harris took his spot, Jamal Custis flourished and Dontae Strickland enjoyed a big year.
- Butler eventually transferred to Tiffin University ahead of the 2019 season, a Division II school in Ohio. He flourished in his first season with the Dragons. He reeled in 56 catches for 679 yards and 6 touchdowns.
- Overall, the opportunity was there for Butler to be that dude going into 2018 and for a plethora of reasons that just didn’t happen. Therefore this recruitment has to be labeled as a miss, although he’s doing big things in the D-2 ranks.
- Hit or Miss: Miss
7. Michael Clark – 3 star OT
- Rated the #4 tackle prospect out of Pennsylvania by scout.com, Clark was sought after in the northeast. He had offers from Maryland, Rutgers, Wake Forest, and even South Carolina. At SU he got all the way up to 6’7”, 318 pounds which is ideal size for an offensive lineman.
- Unfortunately, this is another case of injuries derailing a potentially promising career. Clark appeared in all 12 games his redshirt-freshman season on special teams and in some garbage time. But that was all, he didn’t play a single snap after the 2017 season.
- After his junior season, Clark was medically disqualified due to a head injury which may explain why the Orange have struggled with depth and skill on the line the past few seasons. With injuries there’s obviously a silver lining, but Clark has to be labeled as a miss for the purposes of this article, obviously he didn’t get to showcase his abilities to the fullest extent.
- Hit or Miss: Miss
8. Sean Riley – 3 star APB
- As an all-purpose back coming out of high school, Riley projected to be a slot receiver at Syracuse due to his 5’9”, 165 pound frame out of high school. Utah and Arizona (decommitted from here) were also high on the west coast product, but SU reeled him in.
- Riley might be the best player we’ve covered from the 2016 class to this point. He didn’t redshirt and made an immediate impact in the 2016 season. Riley was a special teams phenom leading the nation in kickoff return yardage and was second on the team with all-purpose yardage with 1,240 yards.
- His sophomore year is really when he began to get reps at receiver as he started 3 games inside. Riley finished second on the team in all-purpose yardage again with over 1,000.
- Riley started 12 games at wideout his Junior year and finally cracked the #1 spot in all-purpose yardage on the team with 1,424. Additionally, he led the team in receiving with 56 catches for 756 yards and 3 scores. His efforts earned him an All-ACC Third Team selection in the all-purpose role.
- Fans expected a major senior finale from Riley in 2019 and that didn’t really happen. He regressed to third on the team in catches with 36 for 275 yards and a touchdown. This can be attributed to Tommy DeVito taking over at quarterback, the disarray of the o-line, and teams perhaps zeroing in on Riley as far as defensive game planning.
- All in all, Riley was a big contributor in all four of his seasons at Syracuse and certainly one of the best all-around players in SU history. In fact, he’s third all time in all-purpose yardage with 4,358 yards and rewrote the school’s records for kickoff returns and yardage. He also finished up as a 1,000 yard career receiver which is always something you strive for as a collegiate wideout.
- As I said before, Riley is the best player from this class that we’ve covered so far and could be considered the front runner for “gem of the class.”
- Hit or Miss: Hit
9. Kendall Coleman – 3 star DE
- Perhaps I spoke too soon, Coleman has something to say about being the best player from the 2016 class. Coming out of Indianapolis, IN, Coleman was basically a MAC level recruit with offers from Ball State, Miami (OH), and Western Michigan. Indiana gave him a look, but no offer. He was a two time AP all-state selection in Indiana and led his high school to a fifth startight Class 5A state championship as a junior.
- Coleman hit the ground running as a freshman playing in all 12 games and making 11 starts. He led all true freshman with 29 tackles, blocked a PAT for the first time since 2012, and recorded a sack vs NC State. 2017 sidelined Coleman for a few games, but he still started 8 contests and finished second among SU-linemen with 28 tackles.
- Junior year was when the flip switched for Coleman. He started in 12 games and posted 32 tackles, 12 for loss, and 10 sacks (second best in the ACC). Coleman even set a Camping World Bowl Record with 3 sacks vs West Virginia.
- As a senior, Coleman was named the defensive captain and started all 12 games. He finished with 48 tackles, 10.5 tfl, and 4 sacks. At the conclusion of the season, Coleman was named MVP at the team’s banquet and went on to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.
- His final stat line is 44 games, 137 tackles, 26.5 tfl, and 15.5 sacks. Those are very respectable numbers, especially for a guy who was apparently only good enough to play in the Mid-American Conference. Coleman has a serious conversation for “gem of the class” and best player in the class and is certainly a hit in the recruiting trail for Dino Babers and Company.
- Hit or Miss: Hit
10. Tim Walton – 3 star – ILB
- Good luck following up Riley and Coleman. Walton was a big win for Babers and Company. He played at Cass Tech in Detroit (nearby where I attended high school) which is a football powerhouse in the mitten state. He had offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, and Buffalo amongst others. He was an all-state selection and recorded 121 tackles in his senior season.
- Walton redshirted in 2016 but was an ACC honor roll selection and did well in the classroom. As a sophomore, Walton appeared in two games and did the same as a junior in 2018. In the Summer of 2019, Walton entered his name into the transfer portal after graduating from Syracuse. It appears as thought he ended up at Texas Southern as he’s on the roster for the 2021 season but hasn’t recorded any stats.
- Walton did graduate and on the SU Athletic Director’s honor roll five times but had no impact on the football program which makes this choice easy and could explain why SU has struggled in recent years at the position.
- Hit or Miss: Miss
Who was I right about, who was I wrong about? Leave your opinions on 6-10 below!