Syracuse football’s 2021 season feels like it’s just around the corner, even though it’s still over a month away. This offseason, we’ve seen Dino Babers snag some new commits and a whole lot of negative press from around the prediction-happy sect of college football media.
Most of that negativity stems from Syracuse’s recent underperformance on the field, namely last year’s 1-10 calamity. However, part of the entire reason Syracuse is in such a mess is due to its underperformance elsewhere – specifically, on the recruiting trail, and particularly when compared to ACC opponents.
We’ve dug into Syracuse’s lacking recent in-state recruiting history here at the Fizz, but it’s worth starting to talk about how poorly Syracuse has done against ACC competition. The numbers are pretty grim.
|Year||Recruiting Class Rank (ACC) (per 247Sports)||4-Star Recruits|
|2014||11th/14 teams||1 (K.J. Williams, never played for SU)|
|2017||11th||1 (Tommy DeVito)|
|2018||10th||1 (Trill Williams)|
Let’s dissect the table you see above. Syracuse played its first season in the ACC in 2013 under head coach Scott Shafer, meaning that its first recruiting class scouted by Shafer and his staff against ACC competition was the class of 2014. Syracuse ranked 11th out of 14 ACC teams and actually pulled in a four-star in that class in ATH K.J. Williams.
However, Williams failed to academically qualify prior to the 2014 season and ended up enrolling in Milford Academy (NY). He never played a down for Syracuse.
Unfortunately for the Orange, Williams is one of just three 4-star prospects to have been signed by the Orange since 2013. The other two were more successful: Tommy DeVito in the class of 2017 and Trill Williams in the class of 2018. Both arrived with Dino Babers at the helm, and at this point have been solid contributors. Out of all three prospects, Trill Williams has easily been the best, barring a 2021 explosion from DeVito.
With the low number of 4-stars in tow, recruiting rankings have suffered for the Orange. Scott Shafer’s 2015 and 2016 classes ranked 13th and 12th in the ACC before he departed SU after the 2015 season.
After Shafer’s departure, Dino Babers was given some time to start recruiting “his guys” beginning in 2016, but his classes haven’t fared much better. Babers’ classes have ranked (beginning with 2017) 11th, 10th, 11th, and 10th in a 14-team ACC. The class of 2022 (currently being recruited) ranks 12th out of 14 teams so far, meaning that if the season began tomorrow it would be tied for Babers’ worst along with last year’s class (!) per 247Sports. For those of you keeping score, that’s eight straight classes ranked 10th or worse in a 14-team conference since 2014.
At the end of the day, teams don’t win if they can’t get the best talent. Syracuse started whiffing on the best talent in the mid-2000s and continues to do so today, especially when that talent is in-state. If there’s a reason for Syracuse’s recent tumbles and 2020 disaster, look no further than what’s been happening on the recruiting trail.