Film Focus: Jamal Custis

Syracuse landed one of its top offensive priorities in Jamal Custis over the weekend, and breaks down what the Orange is getting with the Philadelphia talent inside.

Syracuse snagged a big target -- both literally and figuratively -- in Jamal Custis this weekend. The three-star offensive talent from Philadelphia (Pa.) St. John Neumann High made the call to 'Cuse on Sunday as a play-maker of the future. examines, via tape, what Syracuse is getting in its latest commitment.


The first thing you notice of Custis on tape is quite obvious, it's his size. 6-foot-6, 225 pounds. It's something you cannot teach, coach or acquire. It's the three-star's biggest strength at this stage of his development. It enables him to be physical against smaller defenders and he often dominates them at the high school level one way or the other.

In his routes and even after the catch, it's clear that Custis runs well. Despite the weight he is carrying, he maintains a good level of speed with an obviously-long stride but isn't lacking in his initial burst either. It's not elite speed, but very functional for a prospect of his size.

Still raw in his development, strength and frame are going to carry him early in his college career. As a wide receiver, it will be tough for defensive backs to impact his routes early in his set-up with his shoulders significantly higher than that of a defender.

Despite his already-good weight, Custis seems like he can add another 15-20 pounds to his big frame, which will fit with the Syracuse staff's desire to use him as a hybrid tight end/ wide receiver.

Still Needs Work

While Custis' top strength is what you cannot teach in his size, it contributes to his top area of concern as well. In the portion of tape we were able to sample, there seems to be a lack of want for the football. The three-star has good enough hands and doesn't rely on his body for all his catches, but he is pedestrian in jump-ball scenarios. Watching his tape has you wondering why he isn't high-pointing the ball at his size. Should that flaw turn into a strength, watch out. It should be considered that the lack of elite competition in Philadelphia doesn't require Custis to elevate for the ball against often-smaller opponents.

After he hauls the ball in, Custis isn't the most savvy navigator of traffic. He knows he's stronger and more physical than the defenders he's facing, and that seems to derail his track away from a north-south one. He plays a lateral game with the ball in his hands, giving up the advantage he created with his solid burst and stride.

As you will see with most high school receivers, route-running is a major weakness at this point. False-stepping routes and a lack of precision works at the prep level, but Custis doesn't set up any of the defenders he faces. Again, he doesn't usually have to in terms of being able to make a catch and score for now, but that will change the day he enters his first college practice against ACC defensive backs. This flaw can also be partially attributed to his school, which leans on him on both sides of the ball and doesn't seem to challenge him (based on tape) with the conventional 0-9 route tree.


SU likes Custis as a hybrid, new-age, tight end and wide receiver talent and that's where he may be able to see the field early in his Orange career. It's no secret that play-makers on the outside is somewhat of a weakness on the current roster, and with a handful of players graduating after the 2013 season anyway, there has been quite the emphasis on pass-catchers for SU in the 2014 class.

The staff has done a good job identifying their talent early on and it seems like a safe bet to see three to four such talents in the class and possibly moore. Custis will be the biggest of the group pretty much no matter what, so he'll have somewhat of an advantage early on if he can capitalize on his early chances. Stay tuned.

Cuse Nation Top Stories