Gardening for Prospects

Syracuse has made a concerted effort to reestablish New Jersey as a priority pipeline. In 2015, the Orange are already making progress thanks to assistant coach Bobby Acosta.

Tight ends coach Bobby Acosta is the first weapon deployed by Syracuse in order to become a factor in the state once again. The Orange have not been much of a factor in the Garden State over the five cycles, only landing six prospects during that time.

When the evaluation period began, Acosta his New Jersey hard, trying to make an impact in the 2015 class despite his inability to develop relationships over time since he was not on the staff in prior years. Making a dent would be difficult, but that has not prevented him from trying.

Those efforts have already paid dividends. While Syracuse has not grabbed a commitment from the state yet, they sit in a good spot for players once thought to be out of their reach.

Three-star prospects Dontae Strickland and Daiquan Kelly are high on the Orange due mainly to the recruiting efforts of coach Acosta. As is cornerback Daivon Ellison. His ability to develop relationships with kids quickly has been key.

Another one of his targets, three-star defensive tackle David Ryslik, offers some insight into why Acosta makes such a strong impression on young athletes.

"He's really good at connecting with the players," he said. "Like a big brother role. And he's a jersey guys so he knows how it goes. He's also really cool and easy to talk to. He's not intimidating and you know he's real.

"He's a new coach too. Kind of like a freshman so he knows what it's like to be an incoming college freshman like we will be."

Look for Ryslik to camp with Syracuse towards the second half of June where, depending how things progress over the next month, the Orange could be in a very strong spot for the defensive lineman.

The aforementioned Strickland was thought to be a shoe-in to go to Rutgers, but Acosta's efforts have, at a minimum, put Syracuse in the discussion. At most, they could end up helping the Orange land the talented running back. Regardless of how that recruitment ends up, it is still impressive that Acosta was able to make that big of an impression in a short period of time.

The new member of the Syracuse staff has worked diligently during the evaluation period to find targets both in this cycle and next. He checked in on Jake Pickard, a three-star athlete who can play tight end or defensive end at the next level.

Expect Pickard to visit where Syracuse will have a chance to make a big impression. He maintains that the Orange are high on his list and he is excited about visiting.

Other prospects like Jordan Fox, Saleem Brightwell, Isaiah Ross and D'won Walker are also on the radar with solid relationships with Acosta.

Look for Syracuse to land a few prospects from New Jersey in the 2015 class as they are in a good spot for some of their key targets right now. Given how bold and successful Acosta has been, it wouldn't be a total shock if Syracuse pursued prospects already committed elsewhere.

Regardless, the Orange are back in New Jersey in 2015 and are making a statement that they are there to stay. While Syracuse's efforts this cycle should be considered a success if they are able to land multiple prospects, 2016 could be a year where they make major statements.

Prospects in the state are talking about Syracuse again. That's only a good thing for the Orange in their recruiting efforts.

While the hiring of Bobby Acosta did not catch the radar of most major college football programs, those recruiting New Jersey certainly know his name now.


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