"We targeted about six or seven kids in the state of New York that we really wanted," Shafer said. "We got those offers out to the New York kids early and we hit them hard. We came away with two commitments out of New York. To be honest with you, I would have loved to get all seven of those kids. We're still fighting that fight to keep kids at home."
Now the Orange must look towards trying to get back on track in their home state. That starts with 2015, and that starts with the top player in the state. Tyrone Wheatley, a four-star defensive end prospect out of Canisius High School in Buffalo (N.Y.).
Wheatley is the son of former Syracuse running backs coach of the same name in the Doug Marrone staff. He played at Fayetteville-Manlius High School for a couple of years before moving after his dad took a job with the Buffalo Bills.
The 6-foot-6 prospect is extremely athletic and jumps off the tape when you watch him on film. He already has an elite offer list which includes Alabama, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Penn State, UCLA, Washington and many others. But he has a connection to Syracuse.
His dad coached in Central New York on the same staff that coach Shafer was on, and the two have developed a relationship. The pull of Michigan, where his dad played his college ball, will be tough to overcome. As will some of those other offers on his list. But if Syracuse is going to keep kids at home, it starts with big time prospects like Wheatley.
After Wheatley is Jonathan Forrest, a three-star running back from New Rochelle. He is a strong runner who is slippery between the tackles. With only one running back in the 2014 class, Forrest is at a key position for this cycle.
Anthony DuBose is another running back from Newburgh Free Academy that has an offer and is on their radar. Donavan Williams is junior college running back at Wayne Williams' old ASA stomping grounds. He could be an option if the Orange don't land the high schools they would like.
Davonte Hamilton out of Poughkeepsie who looks the part at 6-foot-3. He has solid ball skills but has average speed. Noah Herington is an offensive lineman from Bath. He is an athletic lineman with a mean streak. Jerome Brundidge goes to Canisius High School and is a solid linebacker prospect, though undersized.
Jay'Von Hampton is a corner who plays a physical bump and run style. He has solid speed and solid ball skills.
Is 2015 a banner year for the Empire State? Certainly not as deep as the last two cycles. Next year, the 2016 class, may be a much deeper and talented class. Still, there are plenty of targets for the Orange that are legitimate division one prospects.
It starts with Wheatley. If the Orange were to become major players and land the four-star stud, it would signal that Syracuse is really becoming a threat on the recruiting trail. It would be one of the biggest recruiting wins of the last decade or Syracuse.
If they don't, it won't be for lack of effort.