Last year, SU football’s big offseason story were the three DBs that moved onto the NFL. Andre Cisco and Ifeatu Melifonwu were drafted in the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively, while Trill Williams was signed to the Saints and eventually the Dolphins roster after the draft. The success of those three made an immediate impact on SU’s recruiting. Most notably in the transfer portal: Jason Simmons, SU’s number 1 free safety this year came by way of the portal. The former New Mexico state Aggie said after he committed to the Orange that the success of SU’s former DBs heavily influenced his decision:
“Being able to know that I’ll be able to be put in a great opportunity to fulfill my ultimate dream of being able to play in the NFL. That was a huge factor. I’m going to be coached accordingly. Just going to try to come in immediately and make an impact.”
With Simmons’ story in mind, it got us thinking; Which players’ success this season could lead to recruiting wins?
Talk about a diamond in the rough! A three-star out of high school, Tucker only got his chance to shine last season because Jahwar Jordan and Markenzy Pierre were downright bad. Tucker burst onto the scene against Georgia Tech in week scoring a couple of touchdowns and reaching the 100 yard mark for the first time in his collegiate career. The feature back of course went on to become a lot more than a fill-in for Jawhar Jordan, breaking records left and right. What could his success do for recruiting? Don’t be surprised to see Syracuse get higher-rated backs going forward. It’s not often that a 3-star recruit like Tucker comes in and adds to SU runningback history alongside names like Jim Brown, Ernie, Davis Floyd Little, Larry Csonka, Joe Morris, and Walter Reyes.
In the past few seasons, Syracuse has become a sort of DBU in the ACC. Three great players walked out of SU’s doors and into the NFL. Chestnut hopes to join them soon in the pros. He came in as the highest-rated recruit in the ‘21 class and has had some flashes of serious potential from time to time. Has he been burned a few times? Absolutely, but he’s still a freshman. Look for Syracuse to continue to breed excellence from the DB position, as highly rated recruits want to go to a place that will help them on their journey to the NFL. That’s exactly what Syracuse has been recently.
Regardless of how things end up this season, Syracuse defensive coordinator Tony White deserves props. Coming into the year there were question marks everywhere on the defensive side of the football for the Orange. The defensive line had a few familiar names returning such as Josh Black, McKinley Williams, and Kingsley Jonathan, none of which inspired Orange fans into having faith in the line. When McNeese St-transfer Cody Roscoe burst onto the scene it seemed that the line had been given new life. Roscoe, a 2-star out of high school, shattered any expectations he had coming into the year. #18 has accumulated 12 TFL and 8 sacks thus far and isn’t done. He and the SU coaching staff deserve tons of credit. This should inspire young players to give SU a chance. Roscoe is a prime example of a player that plenty had given up on. Syracuse took him in and has made him into an animal. As Simmons said, players want a chance at the NFL, Syracuse gives players like Roscoe that chance.
Entire Linebacking unit
Like Roscoe and that defensive line, the Orange have a group of linebackers that have surprised everyone. Three-star recruits make up the entirety of this squad. Mikel Jones, Stefon Thompson, Marlowe Wax, and Geoff Cantin-Arku have made it difficult for any defense to gameplan against Syracuse. Dino Babers has stressed many times how important Jones is to that defense stating that Mikel is the “quarterback of the defense,” and most recently said losing Jones against Louisville was the same as if they’d lost Garrett Shrader. All of these players have impressed this year, and if they do the same next season the next batch of linebackers on the hill will most likely be much higher recruits than this group of 3-stars.
This is all amplified if the Orange reach a bowl game this season, but regardless SU recruiting should be on the rise with the success of the team’s 3-stars and freshman phenoms. Plenty have given Babers flak for not having high-ranking recruiting classes, time for them to eat their words. Babers and the rest of the coaching staff have done incredibly well with what they have.