A Week Away: Where SU Stands

From landing four-star recruits and seeing multiple commitments after a big recruiting weekend, Syracuse football has had an interesting recruiting season. With one week left to move and shake, here is where Syracuse stands with the prospects with a chance to pledge to ‘Cuse as well as some who already have.

As of January 25, Syracuse has 23 verbal commitments, including a trio who are considered "soft" pledges. Some targets are down to two schools, with SU in the mix, and some are still getting looks and offers with seven days before National Signing Day on February 1.

Recent Pick-Ups and Drops

SU has received four verbal commitments in the New Year, all stemming from a big recruiting weekend (Jan. 13-15). The first was Garden City (NY) kicker Ryan Norton. Later that same day, Milton (GA) defensive end Josh Manley committed to Syracuse. He has since become one of the "soft" verbals because of interest and plans to visit Missouri and/or UCLA, though communication between he and each of the new programs has come to a lull.

A few days after the big weekend wrapped-up, Sacramento (CA) City College defensive end Mark Garrick became the first Junior College pledge in the class. The very next day, fellow California JUCO defensive lineman and new friend Zian Jones – from West Los Angeles College – joined Garrick as the fourth verbal pledge from the weekend.

Though he has not been offered a scholarship, University of Detroit (MI) Jesuit defensive end Matthew Eleweke has accepted a preferred walk-on at Syracuse. He announced his decision on Monday and will visit on Friday.

On the flip-side, Syracuse lost one player from the visit – and he was already committed to the Orange. Palatka (FL) linebacker Leroy Owens flipped to Florida International one week after the big weekend, citing location and the ability to stay close to home as the reasons why he made the switch. Owens visited FIU this past weekend (Jan. 20-22), and pledged soon after.

Still in Flux

Manley may not take another official visit because of the communication issues, but he still wants to.

"I would still like to get another visit in, but if I can't - That's fine," said Manley. "When I went on my visit to Syracuse I loved it, that's why I committed there. "I want to take another visit, because I want to at least have another school to compare it all to."

Hershey (PA) defensive tackle and fullback Harold Brantley committed to Syracuse over the summer and he had a quiet recruitment going forward.

Until now.

Brantley has since set up a visit to Missouri, so he was moved to a "soft" verbal commit, per Scout.com policy.

"…They definitely have a shot. I am going to go in there with an open mind, and if I feel that they are a better fit for me then I will pick them," he told Missouri's Scout.com site (ShowMeMizzou.com) about this weekend's visit (Jan. 27-29).

Gainesville (FL) linebacker Tashon Whitehurst has been a "soft" pledge to SU since committing over the summer, and he is down to Syracuse, South Florida and Rutgers – after completing his visits.

"I gotta go home and do some thinking," said Whitehurst on Monday while returning home from the Rutgers trip.

Though SU lost Owens to FIU, it has a chance to return the favor with Haines City (FL) LB Josh Glanton. He committed to the Golden Panthers on November 1, but visited Syracuse last weekend (Jan. 20-22) and said it went "pretty well." Glanton is now considered a "soft" verbal to FIU.

"Right now, they're 50/50," he said of the two programs' chances to land him.

Expect Manley, Brantley, Whitehurst and Glanton to decide by next Wednesday – when players are eligible to sign National Letters of Intent.

Targeted Prospects

For months now, the priority of the Syracuse coaching staff has been Erasmus Hall (NY) defensive back Wayne Morgan. That hasn't changed, though the chances to land the versatile athlete may have. Morgan was down to Syracuse and Connecticut after returning from the UConn trip on Monday, but he has since received late interest from the new staff at Penn State – though he has yet to receive an offer as of Wednesday morning.

A recent development from this weekend was the unexpected official visit from Bedford (OH) defensive end Myles Hilliard. A source tells CuseNation.com that he has de-committed from Pittsburgh, and the Orange's coaches are high on him.

Another late development is the situation with Hinesville (GA) offensive tackle Chester Brown. He won't sign with any school on National Signing Day because of "personal reasons" after things fell apart with he and Georgia because of the state's immigration policy. Brown, who committed to UGA in July, lists Tulane, UCF, Syracuse, Miami and TCU as the schools who have shown late interest.

Along with Garrick and Jones, California JUCO defensive lineman Kyle Bailey and Markus Pierce-Brewster still hold interest from SU. Their chances to become the third and fourth commits from out west may be slimmer as the class fills up. It may depend on the "soft" verbal pledges and where they land.

There are plenty more storylines to follow and there is sure to be some new ones going forward, so stay on CuseNation.com and FOXSportsNext.com for the latest on the Orange and the rest of the country in the days leading to NSD.

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