When Zeek Rodney committed to Wake Forest last weekend, Syracuse was in a bit of a scramble to land at least one defensive tackle prospect as part of their 2014 class. They reached out to several prospects to gauge interest as well as reviewed film to find any under the radar candidates out there. They found one in Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville standout Jalen Harvey.
Alabama is not a traditional recruiting area for Syracuse. Since 2002, the Orange have only two commitments from Yellowhammer State. They have both occurred in the last cycles with Alryk Perry in 2013 and Harvey in 2014.
It never hurts to develop relationships in the south, where a lot of talent can be found even after elite programs take their pick. Harvey is an example of that.
That's not to say Syracuse should be expected to become a player in the state, rather it becomes an option from time to time. Syracuse is at least a school who has landed prospects there recently if they should try to go after future prospects.
With the loss of Jay Bromley and Zian Jones, the health questions surrounding John Raymon and transfer of Josh Manley, defensive tackle depth was a major priority in this class. The early target was four-star Thomas Holley, but he ended up at Florida.
Next on the list was Zeek Rodney. The Orange loved his skill set and went after him hard. But he spurned Syracuse in favor of staying closer to home and committed to Wake Forest. It was time to get creative and go after other options late in the cycle.
Harvey came onto the radar and may have a higher ceiling than Rodney. Scout.com's John Garcia Jr. has seen Harvey in person a few times and had the following to say about his ability.
"Harvey is a quick-twitch defensive tackle that got better as his senior season progressed," Garcia Jr. said. "Named an Alabama All-Star for the annual event against Mississippi's best, he was arguably the top talent along an SEC caliber defensive line during the practice week before suffering a minor knee injury.
"Harvey can win with power or speed, but his hand fighting technique makes him one of Alabama's best."
Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?
Syracuse got the defensive tackle prospect they needed in this class. Harvey's commitment allows the Orange to not have to look to the JUCO level or find a subpar prospect to fill the need.
Harvey is an example of how recruiting can be a mad scramble even right before national signing day. It also shows the resourcefulness of the Syracuse coaching staff. Having the ability to land a prospect with upside after missing on other targets is quite a job by Eric White.