Syracuse got some big recruiting news on Sunday as Coatesville (Pa.) High defensive end Amir Ealey committed to the Orange. His pledge will have a big impact on their recruiting efforts going forward.
Pennsylvania is a key recruiting pipeline for Syracuse. While they generally do not land a bunch of players form the Keystone State every cycle, they do recruit the state very hard. In the 2014 class, they landed three key players in Zaire Franklin, K.J. Williams and Jamal Custis from Pennsylvania.
While Williams did not qualify academically, Franklin was a key freshman contributor this past season. Custis is an offensive weapon with a lot of upside.
Fast forward to the 2015 class, and the only player Syracuse had committed fro PA entering the weekend was long snapper Matt Keller. Three-star prospect Amir Ealey changed all that with a somewhat surprising pledge.
Ealey gives Syracuse even more credibility in the state, as they were able to land one of the state’s best this cycle. It further establishes their ability to be a major player for talented northeast prospects with offers from other regional programs.
In the immediate future, it certainly cannot hurt in Syracuse’s efforts for three-star safety Jazzee Stocker. Stocker also attends Coatesville High and has discussed the possibility of playing with Ealey in college. One would expect Ealey to help Syracuse in their efforts to land the talented safety.
With the loss of starting defensive ends Micah Robinson and Robert Welsh, Syracuse certainly has turnover at defensive end. In fact, they only have four players returning at the position. There are reinforcements coming, however, and Ealey adds to their haul.
Syracuse has already landed three-star defensive ends Brandon Ginnetti, Dana Levine and Keivonnis Davis. Ealey gives Syracuse a fourth. That gives the Orange eight defensive ends, but they want to add one more.
Qaadir Sheppard is the clear top target here. Syracuse sits in a very good spot for him, as he declared them his leader after his official visit. He just wrapped up his visit to Central Florida, and has another scheduled to Connecticut.
Ealey gives Syracuse a little wiggle room, meaning if they miss on Sheppard they do not have to force bringing in another player at the position. This is a big win for the Orange at defensive end.
Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?
There are only a few slots available in this class. As it stands right now, four would be the maximum, but three may be the more likely number. The top targets are Qaadir Sheppard, Jazzee Stocker, Jonathan Crawford and Donovan Hale.
All four took official visits the weekend of December 5th. Stocker, as previously mentioned, is a teammate of Ealey. His pledge can only help Syracuse’s efforts there.
The Orange currently lead for Sheppard, but more visits could be on tap. There are rumblings he could decide sooner, but nothing concrete.
Crawford and Hale are teammates are Largo High in Florida, and former teammates of current Syracuse freshman Cordell Hudson. Everything we have heard suggests the visit for both went very well. In fact, the Orange should be considered the leader for Hale at a minimum and possibly for Crawford as well.
If Syracuse finished their class by landing those four, given the season they had, it would be a fantastic recruiting job by the coaching staff and director of recruiting Eric White. It would all but cement a top 50 class for the Orange.
And then there is the Jake Pickard situation. A current Wisconsin commit, he says he is looking at a potential official visit in January. He is too good to pass up, but that would give Syracuse five defensive ends this class if they also landed Sheppard. Yes that's a lot, as that would give them nine in the roster, but from what we are hearing that will sort itself out. That could be via position changes, transfers or other means. Position changes the most likely. Maybe a couple transition to linebacker or Ron Thompson potentially back to tight end. Pure speculation at this point, but the staff has a plan.
If Pickard decides to move on from Wisconsin, Syracuse should be on the short list of favorites. Coach Bobby Acosta will continue to pursue, and if he comes up for the official, it improves their chances.
Amir Ealey is a huge recruiting win for Syracuse. No doubt about it. It proves, once again, that when Syracuse gets players on campus, this coaching staff always makes an impression. There is little doubt that this coaching staff has done a nice job recruiting, and is another reason that patience regarding their on-field product is warranted.