Recruiting Q&A Part 1

Syracuse will try to build on their solid 2014 recruiting cycle with an even better one in 2015. subscribers asked for insight into the Orange recruiting plans, and we answered. Detailed insider information inside.

Q: The staff keeps saying that early commitments aren't part of their strategy. They want to wait until later. It sounds like a load of crap. How can you really assess what they want to do, and how is it going for them at this point of this year?

A: That strategy does make it difficult to assess a direction early, but you are able to tell things based on history and where offers go. You can tell key positions, key pipelines and more. Then, visits will be set up during the spring and summer that shows other key targets.

Yes it makes it more difficult for me, so for selfish reasons I would prefer the opposite. But it is important to remember they have a plan and executed pretty well last cycle. I think we have to see how the class ends up before passing a judgment there.

I understand the frustration and certainly would be more aggressive early if I were running things, however.

Q: Who would you say are our top 5-10 targeted recruits of the ones we have offered (ones that we have a realistic chance of landing)? Position wise, what do you see as our priorities?

A: Tyrone Wheatley is going to be the top target. Of course he will be very difficult to snag away from Michigan, but expect the Orange to be involved until the end. After that, it's still murky but here are my early thoughts on the top targets.

Bryce Love, John Moten, Jonathan Forrest, Luke Hiers, Sam Madden, Amir Ealey, Zach Allen, Joe Giles-Harris, Riley Nicholson, Jazzee Stocker, Marquise Blair, Sterling Hofrichter

Q: I know we are going hard after RBs this time around. Who in your opinion are the highest rated that we have a legit shot at getting. And what type of runners are they?

A: Bryce Love, John Moten and Jonathan Forrest are legitimate options. Love is a burner with elite speed. He would do a lot of damage on the Carrier Dome turf. Moten is a long-stride runner who has very good speed. He is elusive as well with a solid stiff-arm. Forrest is a more balanced runner with the least amount of speed of the three, but has the most power. He can be that traditional power back if needed but is also shifty enough to be an elusive type of runner.

Q: On our FB Recruiting Board, we are showing 7 visits thus far (before end of 2013 & two by Chris Clark). All of the ones offered have "No Interest" and all of the ones with interest have no offer. What gives with this? Seems like we have several recruits who aren't interested after having visited. Who else has scheduled upcoming visits besides RB Jonathan Forrest?

A: Sterling Hofrichter is scheduled to visit Syracuse on May 30th. 2016 RB Robert Washington will visit over the summer. Drew Wiley, 3-star MLB from New Jersey will visit on April 9th. Tommy Vitale will be visiting for the spring game. Jazzee Stocker is visiting on April 5th. Those are the ones with specific dates we know as of right now.

Expect several others to schedule visits during the spring, with the spring game being a big visitor weekend. Bryce Love, among several others, have committed to visiting at some point.

You will see visits start picking up between now and then, and then into the summer specifically with their summer camps.

Q: Mike, Cuse finished in the low 50's in class ranking this recruiting cycle... What do you see as a realistic finish for this years cycle, and are we "behind," already in the game?

A: Is Syracuse behind? The obvious answer is yes simply because they do not have any commits as of yet nor have they had a junior day. But behind last season's pace? No they are not. They are imploring the same patient strategy that they used during last cycle.

As far as a realistic finish, Syracuse can finish in the top-50. That should be the goal, and it is realistic to get into the 40s.

Q: Can you talk about Jersey recruiting, what inroads are being made and Jersey guys to keep an eye on? Also, who are the McDonald Florida recruits for 2015?

A: Make no mistake about it, Bobby Acosta will be big for Syracuse getting back into New Jersey. Within weeks of his hiring, Syracuse offered several from the state.

Players to keep an eye on are Sam Madden, Najee Clayton, Joe Giles-Harris, Saleem Brightwell, Drew Wiley and D'won Walker.

Some McDonald recruits to follow: Jeremiah Dinson, Luke Hiers, Colin Byrne, Gerald Robinson, Sam Clausman, Kirk Livingstone, Richie Kittles, Andrew Spence, Javaris Davis. Others will develop as the cycle moves on.

Q: Approx how many recruits will we take in 2015? My count has us around 21-22, but assume we take a full class and let it work itself out.

A: Had you not put that number in there, I would have said 20-23. So don't think I'm copying you! But yes expect Syracuse to push it towards 25, but they won't force it there. Also, you may want to consider Lamar Dawson as part of this class because of his health issue.

Q: Is our typical slow start to the cycle more out of us being not aggressive, or just the fact kids aren't that interested? I kind of agree with everyone that it's just BS since we literally lose out on a certain amount of kids before we even start.

A: It's more of not being aggressive. Are a bunch of five-stars realistic at this point? Obviously not. But there are four-stars who would have legitimate interest. The problem has partially been sending out offers and then not staying in contact or scheduling visits. Kareem Ali is a prime example. He left Syracuse out of his top eight because he "didn't feel the love."

Now maybe he wasn't a priority, but that tells you what you need to know. I do believe, however, they have a plan and it will work out. But it is tough to play from behind so to speak. Interest isn't an issue with a lot of these prospects. It is with some, no doubt, but not many of them.

Q: Seems like a lot of offers to big uglies. I like. How many OL do we take this year?

A: I expect Syracuse to look towards a big offensive line class this year. Look for somewhere from five to seven offensive linemen in this class. Five or six is probably around the correct number.

Q: What's up with the TE position? Seemed like with the recruitment of Batten, Clark, Custis, and Enoicy we were going to be incorporating that hybrid TE everyone seems to be using. But since then Batten switched to defense, and both Custis and Enoicy have said they will be playing on the outside. Is McDonald's vision for the TE position in this offense more geared towards the Trey Klock's of the world, kind of like we have now?

A: Custis and Enoicy have the ability to develop into a tight end if they bulk up. I'm not sure there's a clear plan on which type of tight end they want. Blocking is very important in McDonald's offense, but so is having athletic tight ends that can do damage in the passing game. I think he will go more towards the latter, but this class will be telling on the direction he wants to go.

Q: Seems like RB we are going after exclusively APB's, ex. Erv, Bryce Love, Brandon Powell last year, and Ish Witter, Robert Washington. The only power back I remember recruiting was Ollison. It seems our days of power backs is over? thoughts?

A: Syracuse prefers the type of running back that can do damage in both the ground game and through the air. McDonald's system wants as much speed as possible. The power is nice to have, however, which is why a balanced running back would be idea. Jonathan Forrest fits that bill perfectly in my opinion.

Are the days of Syracuse using power backs over? I don't think so. But they will go after more of the speedy, all-purpose types rather than the traditional power backs.

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