When Iowa State moved on from Beau Benzschawel after filling up their tackle allotment for 2014, Syracuse was in the driver's seat for the Grafton (Wisc.) standout. On Wednesday, he made his intentions public when he announced his verbal commitment on Twitter.
While Wisconsin is not a traditional pipeline state for Syracuse recruiting, But the Midwest has been a priority ever since the Scott Shafer era began. With each commitment from the region, Syracuse makes more of a name for itself as an option for top talent in the area.
Benzschawel is the fifth commitment from the Midwest in 2014. In the previous three recruiting cycles, the Orange had six total prospects from the region.
While Benzschawel will start his Syracuse career as a tight end, his brightest long-term future may be at offensive tackle. Being able to add weight but keep his athleticism gives him a high ceiling at the position.
Syracuse entered this cycle with offensive tackle as a big priority. While Chad Mavety may have been the top target and Benzschawel will take time to become a tackle, the upside is still there.
The Orange will still likely look for one other tackle to round out this class. But Beau's commitment means they don't have to add one or settle for a less talented prospect.
Benzschawel also gives Syracuse versatility. He has the ability to play tight end, offensive tackle or defensive end. Tackle and tight end are where Benzschawel's biggest upside. But should an emergency occur down the road, he could transition to defensive end much like Ron Thompson has done this season.
Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?
The offensive line is coming along nicely for Syracuse in 2014. Aaron Roberts and Benzschawel give the Orange two prospects with upside. While one more prospect may be desired, these two give Syracuse some talented depth up front for years to come.
With Benzschawel on board, the priority positions shift a bit. Offensive line is still important, but defensive back and defensive line jump to the forefront. Deion Hallmon, Mike Johnson and Micquell Cotton are the top targets in the defensive backfield. Each is likely to take an official visit. Syracuse also extended an offer on Wednesday to Juwan Davis of Western High in Davie (Fla.).
Along the defensive line, Chris Slayton and Harold Landry are the top defensive end targets. Along the inside, Thomas Holley is still the top target. However, he is looking less and less likely to take an official to Syracuse. The Orange will look to add a defensive tackle in this class, but may look to the JUCO ranks or to under the radar prospects to fill the void.
Linebacker is still in play as well. Nile Sykes is the top target with JaWhaun Bentley and Demetrius Johnson also on the radar. If Jason Cabinda stays with Syracuse, look for only one more linebacker to round out the class. If Cabinda flips to Penn State, Syracuse may take two.
As far as offensive skill position talent, Syracuse is still looking for a running back. Tommy Mister is the top priority there. Steve Ishmael is one of Syracuse's top targets regardless of position. He would round out a very strong wide receiver haul for the Orange.
Benzschawel continues Syracuse's pipeline into the Midwest. He is more athletic than people think and gives the Orange talented versatility. Despite entering Benzschawel's recruitment late, Syracuse made him a priority and recruited him hard over the last two months. He is a nice get for Syracuse who are doing a nice job filling up the 2014 class.