Recruiting Focus: Defensive End

With significant turnover at defensive end over the next two season, Syracuse is looking to add talent and depth up front in the 2015 class. examines the top targets, names to keep an eye on and more inside.

Defensive end is always a critical position, and Syracuse is looking to add speed and athleticism to the defensive line.

Recruiting Plan

Syracuse took only one defensive end in the 2014 class. Look for this cycle to have multiple defensive ends. They could take as many as three or four, but will likely look to take two. Micah Robinson, Robert Welsh and Trevon Trejo are all seniors, and Donnie Simmons is a junior. That's a lot of turnover over the next two years, especially with John Raymon's long-term health still in question.

Top Targets

Make no mistake about it, Tyrone Wheatley is the top target here. He is the number one player in New York State, and can play multiple positions very well. The four-star talent may be a bit of a pipedream for the Orange, so Wheatley will be someone they take if they can but will pursue others as if he ends up elsewhere.

Qaadir Sheppard is another Empire State prospect who Syracuse really wants. He visited last weekend, but has also taken trips to Maryland and Rutgers recently. Sheppard has a top three of Syracuse, Rutgers and Boston College. He plans on visiting the Orange at least one more time before his summer decision. Rutgers is the biggest threat here.

Austrian Robinson called Syracuse one of his dream schools. He is looking to possibly visit Syracuse for this Thursday's practice. A spring game visit is also possible, but he is still working things out. Robinson is a bit raw having only played football for a short time, but has elite level size for the position. Rutgers is, once again, the biggest threat to Syracuse.

Zach Allen was excited when Syracuse offered and is trying to figure out a time to visit. He recently added a Rutgers offer, but does like the Orange. A visit will be critical for Syracuse's chances.

Kyle Henderson has size, athleticism and comes from Florida, where Syracuse has built a solid pipeline. The three-star defensive end was offered last week and wants to try to visit over the summer.

Priority Targets

David Pfaff picked up an offer recently, and he says he's very excited about it. He only has one other BCS offer, from Iowa State, but has visited the hometown Wisconsin Badgers multiple times. He hopes to visit over the summer, but a Badger offer could be a curveball in his recruitment. Similar to Beau Benzschawel last cycle.

Three-star Micah Dew-Treadway added a Syracuse offer on Saturday

Marques Ford picked up an offer recently and has ideal size coming out of high school. He has an offer from in-state Miami, which could be problematic for Syracuse.

Shareef Miller is one of the most athletic defensive ends on Syracuse's board. His offer list is extremely impressive, including schools like Oregon, Penn State, Arizona State and others. He hopes to visit the Orange by the summer.

Micah Dew-Treadway was offered on Saturday, and was excited about Syracuse. He wants to try to visit soon, but his interest is hard to gauge with the offer just coming down.

Other Offerees

Four star Darian Roseboro has a lot of elite offers. North Carolina State appears to have the inside track. Syracuse is on the outside looking in.

Jordan Fox was an early offer for Syracuse, who are trying to make a splash in New Jersey. However, he appears to have moved on as he is looking at several other schools and has not mentioned the Orange recently.

Russell Ude is a talented prospect in Georgia with another impressive offer list. Syracuse made an early push, but Ude is looking in other directions.

Names to Keep an Eye On

Riley Gessner, a three-star defensive end from Atlanta (Ga.), has had a lot of communication with Syracuse but still has not received an offer. He may be a backup plan, but is a prospect to monitor.

A few Keystone State prospects to keep an eye on are Dante Lonardo, Wyett McLeod and Paul Gladimir. Syracuse could also hit up Ohio for backup plans including Shane Maxey, Raymar Rucker or Lucas Maynard.

In the JUCO ranks, ASA defensive end Monte Taylor could be a route Syracuse goes if they need to add someone late in the cycle. Taylor is listed at 6-foot-4, 240-pounds.

In New Jersey, keep an eye on Tanner Cowley, Jamie Gordinier, Joe Odebode and Nazir Williams.

And we can't forget Florida, where prospects like Keivonnis Davis, Andrew Ivie, Richard McIntosh Trae Ferrell, Josh Lindsey and Reuben Jones could jump onto the radar.

Final Thoughts

Syracuse has plenty of options, but visits will be critical. Especially with the two New York prospects (Robinson and Sheppard) that Rutgers is heavily pursuing. Wins in both of those battles would be huge for Syracuse as they look to take back their home state.

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