Recruiting is the coal that powers the train of a college football program. Teams can’t expect to flourish and be successful without winning battles on the trail. Bringing in top-tier talent used to be the norm at Syracuse, but here in 2021 it’s an anomaly when it happens. This is precisely the reason why the Orange mustered up a one win season last year and can’t even compete in the ACC on a regular basis.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. It’s Syracuse. You ask anybody on the streets on a random day what kind of school SU is and unless they have a child on one of the lacrosse teams, they’ll say it’s a basketball school. Fair enough. Although the basketball team isn’t really competing in the ACC either, that’s a discussion for another time.
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter. Boston College, Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia, and even Pitt aren’t known for their football. Heck, UVA often finishes behind SU in the recruiting rankings but still finds ways to win 9 games and even went to the ACC Championship Game in 2019.
There’s no excuse for this dismal track of recruiting Syracuse has experienced ever since the transition to the ACC was set in motion. The Orange consistently loses in-state recruits to other programs and usually it’s to other in-conference foes like Pittsburgh. That’s another article that is in the works and will be released soon. The Panthers’ rise can explain SU’s decline.
Zooming back out to a more macro scale, what if I told you that Syracuse has never had a recruiting class finish better than 10th in the ACC. Well I’m now telling you that is a fact. According to the data from 247sports which is the most respected recruiting site in the industry, SU has NEVER had a class inside the top 10 since it joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
2013: 13th | avg commit rating: 81.28
2014: 11th** | avg commit rating: 82.72
2015: 13th | avg commit rating: 82.69
2016: 12th | avg commit rating: 83.45
2017: 11th | avg commit rating: 83.57
2018: 10th | avg commit rating: 85.27
2019: 11th | avg commit rating: 84.83
2020: 10th | avg commit rating: 83.99
2021: 12th | avg commit rating: 84.44
2022: 13th | avg commit rating: 84.11
** 4-stat wideout KJ Williams boosted this score in the 2014 class and he never even played a down of football for Syracuse. If he wasn’t included, Syracuse would’ve finished 12th behind Georgia Tech.
As you can see from the data, this has been a problem since SU joined the ACC in 2013. There is no argument to be made that this is just a Scott Shafer problem. This is also a Dino Babers problem. The Orange haven’t even found a way to sneak inside the top 10.
If Syracuse can’t find ways to be a recruiting threat then it better be an A1 developmental program. That is the only other way to win in college football. When the X’s and O’s make up for the Jimmy’s and Joe’s. Although ‘Cuse has been well represented in previous drafts, the development hasn’t come at the game’s most important positions.
Former blue chip recruit Tommy DeVito still hasn’t had a solid full season of college football. Former four star offensive lineman Qadir White just transferred as did Ed Hendrix (former high 3-star). Oh and SU’s top recruit in the 2019 class, Lee Kpogba, isn’t even on the roster right now.
Here’s the point, if schools like Louisiana-Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, and Liberty can find ways to win and be legit College Football Playoff contenders under the new proposed system, then Syracuse should be able to as well. There’s no excuse.
I will say that Babers has done well at bringing in a jewel for most of his recruiting classes. You think of Moe Neal in 2016, Tommy DeVito in 2017, Trill Williams in 2018, and Duce Chestnut in 2021. These are the kinds of players that can help your program but it takes a village, not just one.
The class of 2022 is shaping up to follow the same trend. SU is currently second to last in the ACC with just four commits. Louisville is the only school trailing Syracuse and that’s because the Cardinals only plan to bring in 10 recruits due to lack of scholarships.
SU’s ‘22 class got off to a hot start with four commits earlier this year, but not a single one has come since late March. Syracuse also just missed out on 4-star cornerback Jacolby Spells and it appears that in-state 3-star quarterback Henry Belin is headed to Duke. Babers and Company need to be more successful recruiting in the Empire State and that’s another dirty truth we’ll reveal on Friday.