Despite national signing day being over, there are still questions regarding Syracuse's 2013 class. The questions surround which players were the best get for the Orange, which player that chose another school hurt the most, and who is the biggest sleeper in the class. The CuseNation.com staff gives their opinions below.
Mike McAllister: The Corey's. The old staff wanted a receiver in this class, but were unsuccessful in recruiting one. The new staff came in and attacked this position hard. They were able to grab two playmaking receivers with speed in Corey Winfield and Corey Cooper. With the wide receiver position thinning a bit after Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales graduated, the Orange are in need of playmakers at that position. While in 2013, they have a solid group, this move is big for future seasons.
John Garcia Jr.: Darius Kelly. In a class in which the Orange lost out on Augustus Edwards (Miami) and Zach Allen (TCU), Kelly has the chance to be the gem of the class. The versatile defensive back is not very big at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, but he doesn't let his size limit him. Kelly's ball-hawking and play-making nature should lead to early playing time in some way as early as 2013. There is a vacancy at the strong safety position with the departure of Shamarko Thomas, and there may not be a better candidate on the roster who is ready to step in like Kelly may. Plus, Kelly is a great return-man as well, though he doesn't have the speed Brisly Estime possesses.
Dan Tortora: Isaiah Johnson. Johnson is a fighter. Head coach Scott Shafer said that he saw Johnson fly after his opposition firsthand. At the defensive end position, Brandon Sharpe has left an opening as he eyes the NFL. Johnson, then, has an opportunity to show his worth, and his overall attitude comes across as someone who does not like to sit idly by and watch.
Mike McAllister: Zach Allen. Allen was the best of the three quarterback prospects in question coming out of high school. He had the ability to start right away and had a bright future at Syracuse. Losing him hurts because he also brought a perception that Syracuse was becoming a national brand again. Allen was one of the champions of the class before he flipped that would talk the Orange up any chance he had.
John Garcia Jr.: Augustus Edwards. Most will go with Allen, but I'll go with Edwards. Not taking a running back in any class is a big deal, especially when the top two targets (he and Laray Smith) were Syracuse leans for a long time. The loss of assistant and area-recruiter John Anselmo to Buffalo my have been the nail in the coffin for both downstate talents, but Edwards' reaction to late pushes from Miami, where he signed, and Florida State were too much to ignore. The big back will get an immediate chance to thrive with the 'Canes, and SU fans will have to watch him and watch the Orange play him in the ACC for the duration of his career in Coral Gables. Malik Brown would have been my second choice considering there is no true pass-rushing prep talent on the signee list.
Dan Tortora: Malik Brown. Brown would have added assistance in two different areas of the defense. At the defensive line or as a linebacker, Brown would allow yet another option to what Shafer said he wanted, more depth. Not being up front caused Brown to choose elsewhere with confliction coming after the Syracuse staff was changed unannounced. You cannot teach heart, and Brown seemed to have had his with the Orange.
Mike McAllister: Isaiah Johnson. The 2-star defensive end has the size, length, and speed to develop into a big time player. As he goes through the strength and conditioning program, he should get better and better each year. Despite being relatively new to football, his raw skills lend themselves to being a force down the road if he develops.
John Garcia Jr.: Marqez Hodge gets the nod here, and it's not close for me. Everyone will point to standouts like Mitch Kimble, Austin Wilson, Corey Cooper or even Wayne Williams as the gems of the 2013 class for Syracuse, but Hodge could challenge Kelly as the headliner down the road. The middle linebacker position is crucial in Scott Shafer's defense because of the one-man responsibility to take on blockers and fill each A-gap in addition to calling plays. Hodge epitomizes that for SU, he is a tackling machine and a downhill threat ideal to have a Siriki Diabate-like impact sooner than later. There aren't many true middle linebackers on SU's roster heading into the spring.
Dan Tortora: Tyler Provo. With a new focus on quarterback after the departure of Ryan Nassib, less has been put on the position that he enjoyed throwing to, the tight end. Provo wants to catch the ball. He has made that clear. His size can give defenses much to handle after the catch, and the uncertainty of how redshirt Ron Thompson will perform, look to Provo to possibly turn some heads.