It feels hard to believe that it has only been two months since Dino Babers was let go as the head coach of Syracuse football, but as we sit here on January 26th, that is a reality, as Fran Brown was not introduced as the next coach of SU on December 4th. Yet, in that time frame, a number of things have transformed in the program including the coaching staff, alumni relations, recruiting, personnel, etc.
So, now feels like as good of a time as any to look at just how successful this offseason has been for Syracuse in one of the key parts of modern college football: the transfer portal. In recent years, Babers and his staff got valuable additions in the portal that contributed to winning, but what Brown and his staff have done has been a new stratosphere.
“Transfers have made an impact for SU over the past few years — Garrett Shrader, Alijah Clark and Dan Villari are just a few who’ve been contributors — but Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord and Texas A&M defensive lineman Fadil Diggs are on a different level,” Emily Leiker of syracuse.com wrote recently.
On 247 Sports, Syracuse has the 22nd-ranked portal class, which includes the likes of Diggs, McCord, the return of Duce Chestnut, and many more. Looking at the position groups Syracuse targeted, it is clear they had an agenda of the kind of player they wanted: quarterback, offensive and defensive line, secondary, and pass catcher. Of the 11 players committed on the 247 Sports page, you have the QB in McCord, six lineman/pass rushers, two receivers, and two secondary defenders.
“McCord and Diggs are both four-stars per 247Sports’ transfer rankings,” Leiker said. “Diggs is a top-50 transfer and top 10 at his position, while McCord’s just shy of the Top 50 at No. 59 and is the No. 12 quarterback from this year’s portal cycle. Both were starters at talent-rich programs in the Big Ten and SEC, setting them apart from most of the players Syracuse has acquired from the portal in previous years.”
It is clear that under Babers Syracuse was not maximizing the talent it could acquire in the portal and from high school recruiting. Brown has rewritten that narrative, and changed the national perception of SU football, especially in the Northeast by using the portal to his advantage, and even though the Orange have lost quite a few players, those they’ve gained could make up for it and more.
There is a reason everyone enters the portal, and no one is perfect, that is why they are moving on, but there are a lot of reasons for optimism because of Brown’s portal work this offseason, and Syracuse has been much more successful there than recent years because of a dedicated commitment to NIL, and a new vision from the head coach on down through his staff.