Dino Babers‚Äôs class of 2022 is scant. While yes, this is the early signing period, and the Orange could potentially grab players out of the transfer portal, the 70th-best class in the nation doesn‚Äôt appear to be bringing a ton of firepower to the 315, especially on the offensive end. SU only has four players currently committed to play on the offensive side of the ball. That‚Äôs a real issue. Syracuse fans better hope whomever Babers brings in as the new offensive coordinator can woo some former players and recruits from his old destination, because right now, the Orange are an injury or two away from playing the walk-ons.
All that being said, the four offensive commits SU brings in do deserve some recognition. Let‚Äôs see who Babers is bringing in on the offensive end.
Allen is by far the best offensive player in the class, and according to 247sports, he‚Äôs the best overall prospect of SU‚Äùs haul. A three-star running back from Millville, New Jersey, Allen chose SU over Pitt, West Virginia, Rutgers, and others. The South Jersey player of the year saw action on both sides of the ball for Millville High School his senior year, lining up at RB, WR, DB.
Allen‚Äôs best trait is his acceleration with the ball in his hands. He does a very nice job of being patient, and identifying the hole with clean, snappy cuts, then exploding through it. A former track athlete who ran a 7.35 55-meter dash as a sophomore, there‚Äôs definitely a lot of burst in his legs. He‚Äôs also got good hands out of the backfield. The one thing that‚Äôs missing from Allen‚Äôs tape is the ability to make tacklers miss. He almost always goes down on first contact, which is not a good sign once he gets to the college level. The best running backs (i.e. Sean Tucker, Kenneth Walker III, etc.) can drive their legs through tackles or break a defender‚Äôs ankles. Allen doesn‚Äôt have either in his arsenal just yet.
Brown, a three-star receiver from Gathersburg, Maryland, is SU‚Äôs other skill position commit in the class. A 200- and 400-meter Maryland 4A champ in high school, Brown possesses legitimate speed. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, he‚Äôs built like a next-level receiver already. His Quince Orchard Cougars went undefeated this year on the way to a Maryland state championship. Brown‚Äôs only other offer was from Vanderbilt.
Orange director of high school relations Deon Maddox said Brown is ‚ÄúSmooth, smooth, smooth‚Ä¶‚Äù and that does translate off the tape. Quince Orchard did a lot of different things to get its game breaker the ball, whether that be jet sweeps, tunnel screens, or the wildcat. Brown runs crisp short to intermediate routes, and should serve as a solid possession receiver. He can beat defenders down the field, but only with pure speed, not the elite-level route running skills top wideouts showcase at the next level. Once he becomes a more physical receiver, and faces better competition, he should blossom into a better deep threat as well.
How about a beef-eater! Schuster, a three-star offensive lineman, is straight out of Franklin, Wisconsin. He‚Äôs a 6-foot-6, 280 pounder who also threw shotput and discus in high school. Schuster had offers from most of the MAC schools and also drew interest from bigger programs like Florida State and his hometown Badgers.
The word Maddox used to describe Schuster is ‚Äúfinisher,‚Äù and that rings true in evaluation. Schuster definitely has a bit of a mean streak to him, something coaches love in offensive lineman. He perfectly fits the SU offense. A long, athletic tackle that loves to run block. He has extremely long arms, and uses them to lock on to a defensive end, then power through them with his legs. Schuster did spend a lot of time in a three-point stance in high school, so there‚Äôs the potential for him to kick inside and play guard if needed.
SU‚Äôs fourth and final ESD commit on the offensive side is a native New Yorker. Joe Cruz, a Long Islander who attended Sachem North High School, was the first of the two lineman to pledge to Babers and the Orange. He‚Äôs another three-star, and the lowest-rated recruit in the class on the 247sports composite (.8228). His only other offers were from Lafayette and Stony Brook.
Let‚Äôs just say there‚Äôs a reason Long Island is known for lacrosse. Cruz totally outmatches his opponents on tape. He‚Äôs bigger, faster, and longer than anyone else on the field. That‚Äôs awesome in high school, but it will be interesting to see how it translates to the college level. His hand and hat placement does leave a lot to be desired sometimes, and technique is certainly going to be first on Mike Schmidt‚Äôs list of teaching points.