Early National Signing Day circa 2021 has come and gone for Syracuse football. December 15th was quite uneventful for SU on the recruiting trail, which can be a good thing. On the one hand, nobody de-committed or spurned the Orange for another destination. But on the other hand, there were little to no additions or answers to the burning and plentiful questions everyone has about this team and about this program.
Last year, everyone was hype about top 2021 signee Duce Chestnut and what his potential was on the Hill. Well the hype was deserved because the New Jersey native had a spectacular freshman season garnering All-American and All-ACC accolades. There was Garrett Shrader who ‘Cuse got via the transfer portal. The Mississippi State transfer did some good things as a youngin’ in Starkville and showed potential. Of course he was and is the incumbent starter behind center for this team.
Take a look at what SU has this year in its ’22 cycle. Anybody on that list that can be a program changer like Chestnut and even Shrader was to a certain extent? Maybe, but more than likely not. The backfield is Sean Tucker’s so LeQuint Allen won’t play an immense role, Mikel Jones is 50/50 to come back so we’ll see there. If he leaves, perhaps Mekhi Mason can step in at MIKE linebacker right away. Honestly, it might be Dom Foster that has the biggest impact. He’s the fastest player in the class on film and can play right away in the secondary or on special teams.
We’re getting sidetracked from the main point here though. Who’s the crown jewel of this recruiting class? Who has you excited for 2022? So far it doesn’t appear like anybody. Maybe it’s the former Louisville safety and high profile recruit Bralyn Oliver who the Orange nabbed from the portal? Or maybe it’s one of the best college football players on the market right now, oh and he resides just two hours east at UAlbany. Jared Verse is the name to know ladies and gentlemen.
The Great Dane defensive end is one of the hottest commodities in the transfer portal right now. Verse may be the best football player to ever graze the campus of UAlbany. The redshirt-freshman is coming off of a CAA Rookie of the Year and all-conference campaign racking up 52 total tackles, 11.5 for loss, and 9.5 sacks with one forced fumble. The Berwick, PA native put up those numbers in just eleven outings this year. Some SU fans may remember him for September’s matchup in the Dome when the Orange hosted the Great Danes. Verse tallied four tackles in that matchup which should be deemed the “Sean Tucker Track Meet“
Anyways, Verse is using the portal to climb from the FCS ranks to the big time spotlight of the power five. The Central Columbia High School product is rated the ninth best transfer recruit, first amongst defensive lineman, and given a 4-star rating after being a no-star coming out of prep. Verse has offers from pretty much everybody that is anybody. Here we go, here’s the list: Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, USC, Miami (FL), Tennessee, Auburn, Florida State, Houston, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, West Virginia, Utah, and Syracuse (plus a few others but who cares about Uconn). Wow that’s a massive list!
It’s a bit unusual to see this many schools interested in a guy that could still be a risk. Yes, he produced at a CAA school against sub-par talent. However, the upside is crazy for Verse as an edge prospect. It’s an upside he didn’t discover he had until he became a Great Dane. On top of that, because of COVID and the strange times, Verse has at least three years of eligibility left with the free year and redshirt in 2019.
Let’s bring it back to the Hill. Syracuse has had a whole lot of attrition across the team, specifically at defensive line. So there are plenty of scholarships available and there’s definitely a spot for Verse if he wants it. There really isn’t an edge in the pipeline in Tony White’s 3-3-5 defense with Cody Roscoe, Josh Black, and others gone. Verse is all but guaranteed immediate playing time whereas at other places like in the SEC, he’ll have to fight off guys and worry about getting recruited over every single year. Not to mention the fact that Syracuse is a two-hour trip west of his former school and still a stone’s throw away from his home state Pennsylvania.
This seems like a slam dunk for Dino Babers who has gone on record in saying to expect more fireworks and additions to this 2022 recruiting class.
“I’d say we’re halfway done,” Babers said. “And only half the work is done. We’ve got a lot more work to do. I appreciate the work these coaches have done in this back room. I appreciate them very much.”
The second half of this offseason recruiting overhaul coupled with some massive additions needed for coaching vacancies like offensive coordinator will make or break not just the 2022 season, but Dino Babers’ tenure in the 315.
This is the type of story we love to see in college football. A former no-star emerges at a small school and just erupts on the national stage. This story would be even sweeter is Verse is juiced up at Syracuse and turns this program around in the process. Then again, sweet is one thing, but this is a MUST GET for SU over the next two months.