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Syracuse Football’s National Signing Day Game Changers

Sports Illustrated

This might have been the most eventful national signing day under Dino Babers mainly because of the shifts in SU’s program over the last couple weeks. Not only have recruits been flipping their commitments left and right, former Cuse defensive coordinator Tony White has successfully steered a couple Orange commits to his new program in Lincoln, Nebraska. Luckily, Syracuse has managed to bring in a slew of dynamic players to bolster their depleted roster thanks to the NFL draft and the transfer portal. Here are a few of those game changers for SU.

Jaeden Gould

Nebraska’s former top recruit in its 2022 class is on his way to Central New York. Gould entered Lincoln as a four-star recruit and top three player in New Jersey. But the highly-touted recruit only played in one game, failing to record a tackle. All of this might steer fans away from thinking Gould can be an X-factor in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 secondary, but let’s argue the contrary.

Gould is a lot like Duce Chestnut, just bigger in stature. At 6’2, 200 pounds, the now-Syracuse commit delivers truck-like blows and isn’t afraid to jump passing lanes. His wide frame allots for precise open-field tackles and depending on what happens with Justin Barron and Rob Hanna, he has the perfect eye for the rover role. His closing speed is next level but what will hold him back is experience. With that being said, Chestnut, another top recruit in the Garden State, was a freshman All-American and led the team in interceptions in his first year, so what’s to say Gould can’t provide that same spark in an immediate starting role. He also brings much needed swagger to a defense that’s losing a whole lot of it.

Jayden Bellamy

You might be wondering why two corners headline the top two game changers on this list. Well, the answer is pretty simple. After dominating defensively under the tutelage of White, SU’s defense never had to worry about Garrett Williams and Chestnut. Now both are gone, and if you include Jeremiah Wilson’s choice to enter the transfer portal and then retract that decision, there is no fluidity for new DC Rocky Long at the corners. But now you bring in Gould and another top 40 cornerback from last year’s class in Bellamy, both of whom were teammates in high school, and these moves are anything but fool’s gold.

Bellamy, who was a member of Notre Dame this past season, comes from NFL lineage. His dad, Jay, played for both the Saints and Seahawks. Though he forged his own path in high school. In his senior season, Bellamy had four interceptions, 27 tackles and also caught eight receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. The eye test might concern most at first glance as the Fighting Irish transfer stands at just 5’11 and weighs 175 pounds. But that’s why he’s a developmental freshman who will benefit from a zone defense pinpointing athleticism. Rarely will Long leave his players in one-on-one coverage, which is advantageous to SU.

Bellamy’s skill is eye-popping too. He is quick and has great lateral technique on first contact. If his tape doesn’t show it, then the schools that offered him is evidence enough. That includes Penn State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan, LSU, Clemson and many more. The level of power five interest speaks volumes to Bellamy’s potential.

Joe More & Trevion Mack

Yes, an ampersand is necessary on these two offensive lineman. Instead of picking which one would likely be more impactful, let’s tackle both.

Joe More is a Richmond transfer and Syracuse’s first pickup from the portal. He is listed at at 6’5, 302 pounds and has a wealth of experience with only one year of eligibility left. Outside of his redshirt season, More has appeared in at least ten games each season. This is as important as More’s impact on the line because every Cuse fan is privy to the lack of health that SU’s O-line sustains. If he can stay healthy and use his 300 pounds to his advantage, that is a tough out for any edge rusher that’s never seen him before because of his A-10 ties.

Trevion Mack is the lineman everyone should be the most excited about. The former Northern Illinois commit flipped his decision in favor of Babers and the Orange today. Mack is listed at 6’5, 295 pounds and could play guard or tackle. That level of versatility is important especially with how normal it was for Syracuse to shuffle around the line. His height is advantageous and the one aspect of his film that impresses is his fight. There is rarely a play in high school where Mack isn’t pile driving an opposing player into the ground. If he does that in a disciplined manner at Syracuse, then all is well for whoever is in the backfield trying to gain yardage.

Braylen Ingraham

When you hear Alabama, the first instinct is to shout out “Woah!” But it isn’t that fact that Ingraham learned the Crimson Tide way that should impress the CNY masses, rather, 6’4, 298 pounds should have Cuse fans cheering. Shove aside the Florida native’s lack of playing time at Bama and focus more on what he has to offer. He is big, strong, witty, and nimble at his weight.

SU rested most of its responsibility of edge rushing on Kevin Jobity Jr. and Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff toward season’s end, two inexperienced players that stand at the same height of Ingraham but weigh 50 and 30 pounds fewer respectively. The four star uses his weight to his advantage, working quick off his first step and getting skinny in a crowded pocket. What he adds most to Syracuse is his will to dominate athletically. In a 3-3-5 defensive set, the ‘Cuse are only sending three bodies toward the quarterback, so to rely on a player who can to change direction is key. Ingraham brings experience, a fiery demeanor, and great technique to a D-line who won’t have as many stellar blitz weapons in the linebacking core.

Lonnie Rice

Speaking of impact linebackers, Rice encapsulates that on film. The JUCO transfer finished last season (redshirt freshman year) at Lackawanna Community College with 39 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He is quick, jumpy, tracks receivers and finds holes into the backfield well, which is an ode to his athletic background. Rice competed in track and field in high school and played multiple sides of the ball on the football team. That gives him an extra layer of knowledge pertaining to reading the quarterback’s eyes and receiver’s routes.

Rice closely resembles the body type of Mikel Jones, who stands at 6’1 and weighs 224 pounds. The JUCO transfer is 6’0, 220 pounds. The only question mark surrounds the competition on hand. Community College to an ACC program is no joke in terms of the level of competition. Rice might not be a day one starter, but just as Leon Lowery, Derek McDonald and Austin Roon learned, a chance is all that’s needed to make an impact.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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