With Aaron Roberts moving on from Illinois a few weeks ago, Syracuse was in the driver's seat to land the two star offensive guard. Despite Oklahoma ramping up their interest, Roberts decided that Syracuse was home.
Syracuse has made the Midwest a priority. Head coach Scott Shafer, quarterbacks coach Tim Lester and running backs coach DeAndre Smith have a lot of ties to the region with established recruiting relationships.
Roberts marks the fourth commitment from the Midwest, and third from the state of Illinois, for the Orange in the 2014 class. Syracuse continues to make a name for itself and is popping up more and more as a real option for some of the most talented prospects in the region.
While offensive tackle received most of the attention as a position of need in this recruiting cycle, the interior was just as important to the Orange staff. Roberts was identified early as the top interior offensive line target for Syracuse. Landing him is big as the Orange look to fill up the rest of the class.
Syracuse is not looking to bring in three or four interior linemen. Roberts may be it for the Orange on the inside. That means prospects such as Kadeem Smith, Travis Zimmerman and Harris Mrkulic are not likely to receive interest going forward.
Recently, Alexander Thompson from Milford Academy visited and is being recruited as a center. There is mild interest in Thompson who remains the only potential option on the inside of the offensive line.
The focus up front now moves to offensive tackle. Firmly on the radar are Milford Academy product Chasz Wright and Grafton (Wisc.) three star Beau Benzschawel. Benzschawel was on campus with Roberts on an unofficial visit. He has admitted that the Orange are in the driver's seat for his services.
Rumor Mill Benzschawel may be a backup plan. Mainly because Syracuse knows they can get the three star prospect virtually whenever they want. The question is, who is the main target in that case? Wright is the logical option. And yes Chad Mavety is still on the wish list, though he isn't someone Syracuse is counting on. The most likely scenario is there is a prospect that is on the Orange radar that will be a surprise down the road.
Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?
Syracuse still wants at least one offensive tackle in this class. But the more important positions are on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker and cornerback are the focus.
Syracuse really wants Nile Sykes and will continue to make him a priority at linebacker. If the Orange miss on him, Justin Hughes, JaWhaun Bentley and Demetrius Johnson are all on the radar as well. Johnson may be on the radar regardless of Sykes.
Along the defensive line, Thomas Holley is clearly the top target. However, recent developments put an official visit in serious doubt. Assuming the Orange miss out, that will force them to move on to other backup targets. B.J. White could be on the radar. Hitting up the JUCO ranks is also a possibility.
At defensive end, Syracuse still has options. Harold Landry appears to be the top target despite his commitment to Boston College. Chris Slayton is very much in play as well as is Marquis Brown. The key will be to get them on campus for visits.
Offensively, the top two targets are wide receiver Steve Ishmael and running back Tommy Mister. Of the remaining targets left, Syracuse could take up to eight to ten to fill out the class.
Roberts gives Syracuse some beef in their 2014 class. They were finally able to add some help up front which they believe is key as they look to improve in the ACC. He helps the Orange continue to establish themselves in the Midwest as well as shift focus to other priority targets. Roberts was a nice get for Syracuse.