Syracuse lost an offensive tackle in their 2014 class when Beau Benzschawel flipped to Wisconsin. Now, they are going after a Big-10 commit to try and flip him to become part of the Orange's class. Chicago (Ill.) Simeon High offensive tackle Denzel Ward, currently committed to Purdue, has become a priority target for Syracuse.
"It's really something that's happened recently," Ward said. "My friend Aaron Roberts, he had told me that the coaches were wondering if I was interested because I was committed to Purdue. He said they were very interested in me. Then earlier this week, one of the coaches, I think it was the recruiting coordinator Eric (White), he hit him me up on Twitter.
"He was just letting me know about the opportunities that I have there and things like that. He let me know that I have an offer there. And he said I think it's coach (DeAndre) Smith will come out next Tuesday for a home visit with me and my parents. I will schedule the official then."
The three star prospect has a couple of player connections to Syracuse. Current commit Aaron Roberts, is a friend of Ward's. Freshman tight end Kendall Moore is a former high school teammate.
"It was pretty cool knowing I have multiple friends that would be there," Ward said. "I have Kendall Moore. I kind of grew up around him. He's been at Simeon since my freshman year and he's pretty cool. I actually kind of looked up to him. That's a guy I look up to.
"And then Aaron Roberts, Roberts is a guy that's in my grade that I could play with next year. It's pretty cool. Just knowing the tradition they have at running back and I could actually be an offensive lineman to pave the way for a running back. And they have two great quarterbacks in this class. It's definitely something interesting to look at."
The opportunity to play with both at the next level is something that is very attractive to the Simeon standout.
"Aaron it's almost every day," Ward said. "He doesn't bug me at all, but he tells me that he'd love to have me up there as part of the family. Another Chicago guy and me and him could be playing right next to each other. That's a big deal to have someone from your hometown right next to you.
"Kendall just tells me that it's a lot of hard work and it'll be tough for me. But I could come in there and possibly play early."
Next up for Ward are his official visits. He currently has three scheduled as he looks to make his final decision after getting to know the schools better during his trips. The Orange are definitely high on his list despite being committed to Purdue.
"I'm going to give them a serious look," Ward said. "I'm going to take an official there. Right now I have two other officials scheduled to South Florida and Oklahoma. Right now they're one of my top four schools at the moment, but I'll have to go on my officials. I'm just trying to see the best place that I'll fit. Just find the best opportunity academically and athletically at the end of the day.
"I haven't been to any of those schools yet. Oklahoma kind of sticks out. South Florida plays in an NFL stadium and they have a new coach. With Syracuse, they have one of the top communication programs in the nation, which is what I want to study. They have a great coach and he has a great staff under him so I just want to see things and feel them out and what they present to me. What type of system they're running to see if it fits my style. That's what I'm looking forward to."
Ward is ranked as the 77th best offensive tackle in the 2014 class.