Recruiting Focus: Running Back

Syracuse has two running backs in the fold already for the 2015 class, but will both play the position when they arrive on campus? How many more backs will the Orange take this cycle? Who are the top targets? CuseNation.com has all of the answers inside.

Syracuse is looking to add a few running backs in the 2015 class. Jerome Smith is gone after a solid junior season, and Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore are heading into their senior campaigns. The Orange will look to add depth and talent to the position this cycle.

Recruiting Plan

Syracuse only took one running back in 2014 after not taking any in 2013. There is a big need to add players at the position in this class. The goal is to take as many as three, with two being the minimum.

The Commits

The good news for Syracuse is that they already have two running back commitments in 2015. The first to pull the trigger was Locust Valley (N.Y.) Friends Academy running back Tyrone Perkins. He runs with great vision and is supremely athletic.

However, there is a possibility that Perkins is brought in as an athlete. In that scenario, he could end up moving to defensive back because of his strong ball skills.

The next to give the Orange a verbal is also an in-state prospect in Cedarhurst (N.Y.) Lawrence High running back Jordan Fredericks. Known as arguably the best running back down state, Fredericks gives Syracuse a balanced running back who strong cutting ability.

Top Targets

Dontae Strickland was the top man on the Syracuse running back board. Assistant coach Bobby Acosta visited him at his high school and has been pursuing the three-star talent. However, they are getting a vibe that he may be leaning towards another program.

Therefore, the focus has shifted to Sachse (Tex.) prospect Devine Ozigbo. He visited Syracuse last season for the Clemson game, and picked up an offer within the last few weeks. Syracuse is expected to visit his school within the next few weeks.

Ozigbo will look to trim his list by the end of the month and make a decision by mid-summer at the latest.

Priority Targets

Three-star South Florida commit Karan Higdon likes Syracuse despite his verbal status. He may be someone that the Orange pursue if they miss on Strickland and Ozigbo.

Deltron Sands has been a Maryland lean for some time, but Syracuse briefly caught the Sunshine State product. However, he recently indicated that he is back in favor of the Terps and will decide after his spring game later this month.

Other Offerees

Elite prospects such as Damien Harris, Jacques Patrick, Mike Weber, Eric Swinney, Darrin Hall, Reggie Gallaspy and Bryce Love all expressed interest at one time. However, each has decided to move on in light of bigger offers and the lack of contact from the staff.

Other elite prospects Andre Robinson, Andrew Dowell, Jordan Cronkrite and Saquon Barkley have all committed elsewhere and are off the radar. Three-star John Moten is also pledged to another program.

Mikell Lands-Davis had some interest, but is looking at other programs that are closer to home at this time. The same is true with Joshua Thomas and Shawn Furlow.

Davon Tucker was once thought to be close to pledging to the Orange, but Syracuse informed him to postpone his visit after Perkins committed. That has yet to be rescheduled, and Syracuse may have moved on.

Names to Keep an Eye On

Still at the forefront is three-star running back Jonathan Forrest. Forrest is the top rated back in New York and the number two prospect overall. He posted a very strong SPARQ score in Washington D.C. at the NIKE combine.

Forrest has visited Syracuse once already, but has said the Orange have started to look at him as a linebacker. That development is perplexing given his 5-foot-10 stature. He is a talented runner with good vision and power. An offer may depend on how things work out with Ozigbo.

Other targets that could jump onto the radar if Syracuse can't land one of the other prospects include Robert Ennis, Mike McDaniel and Nawell Rojas.

Anthony DuBose out of Newburgh (N.Y.) was offered by the Marrone staff, but has not had any contact with this one. Donavan Williams attends Wayne Williams old ASA junior college and could be a backup option.

As could Matt Taft out of Clifton Park (N.Y.).

Final Thoughts

Syracuse has done well grabbing two priority targets in-state, but wants one more to round out the 2015 haul. If Syracuse can reach into Texas to snag Devine Ozigbo, who has northeast roots, it would be a big recruiting win. However, the lack of an offer for Jonathan Forrest is puzzling and is something to monitor going forward. Regardless of the Ozigbo situation, he looks like someone the Orange should pursue.


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