Syracuse was torched through the air in games against teams with the best passing offenses. Florida State, Clemson, Northwestern and even Penn State had a lot of success against an Orange secondary that was supposed to be one of its strengths entering the 2013 season.
The Orange coaching staff moved quickly to correct that by landing seven defensive backs in the 2014 recruiting class. Four cornerbacks and three safeties made up the seven player haul.
While one, Lamar Dawson, isn't likely to make it to campus until 2015, that still gives Syracuse six players who will add depth to the roster for the upcoming season.
The corners, outside of the aforementioned Dawson, are all under six feet tall. Despite that, they all help improve Syracuse's speed on the outside to try to and stay with the better playmakers in the ACC.
Antwan Cordy, Juwan Dowels and Cordell Hudson are all speedy Florida receivers but undersized. They will benefit greatly from the strength and conditioning program at Syracuse, and aren't likely to see the field right away.
Dowels may be the most skilled of the three corners and has the best chance to see the field early. He has to add to his 160-pound frame, but has all the makings of a solid ACC corner. Interest from Oklahoma and Clemson late (both offered) show the type of upside he possesses.
Hudson is a 5-foot-11 corner with that Florida speed and athleticism that Syracuse covets. He should help the Orange on the outside, and has potential to be a very solid cover corner down the road.
Cordy is undersized at 5-foot-9, but gives Syracuse quality depth with athleticism and speed.
At safety, Syracuse landed more undersized athletes. Rodney Williams and Naesean Howard are both under six feet tall. However, both are extremely athletic and have a knack for making plays. They are physical safeties who will not be afraid to come down into the box and mix it up against bigger players.
Safety Treevon Prater and corner Lamar Dawson give the Orange a pair of bigger prospects amidst the undersized. Prater is very athletic and has versatility to play corner in the slot in addition to safety. He has the potential to play either safety position and could blossom into a playmaker. There is a chance he does not qualify and has to go the prep route for a semester like Corey Cooper.
Dawson is a tough, physical corner with above average ball skills. His medical issues will likely force him to stay home and recover rather than joining the program over the summer. He will still have a slot, however, and will look to enroll in January of 2015.
Syracuse certainly got deeper in the defensive backfield with this past recruiting cycle. It could take a few years to pay major dividends, but the message is clear. Syracuse has to get better in the secondary if they are to compete with the elite programs in the ACC.