Recruiting Ripple: Jake Pickard

We breakdown the impact of Syracuse landing one of their top targets in defensive end Jake Pickard.

Syracuse landed the top target remaining on their board in three star defensive end Jake Pickard on Friday. His recruitment means a lot to the Orange.

Regional Impact

Scott Shafer told over the summer of 2014 that getting back into New Jersey this cycle was critical. The talent rich state needed to become a pipeline on which the Orange can rely. Enter assistant coach Bobby Acosta, who seemingly took the state by storm.

Pickard gives Syracuse three of the Garden State’s best 2015 prospects joining running back Dontae Strickland and defensive back Daivon Ellison. Given that coach Acosta had to play catch up by developing relationships quickly with players he was recruiting, it is very impressive he was able to land three top prospects.

Not only does that help add more talent to the roster, but it further establishes Syracuse as a real player in the state going forward. The impact of Pickard’s commitment may not be felt in terms of helping to land 2015 players, but will certainly raise the eyebrows of some of New Jersey’s best 2016 recruits.

Seeing someone choose Syracuse over Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon and others is symbolic and tangible evidence that coach Acosta is doing a fantastic job on the recruiting trail. Look for a much larger number of players to join Syracuse from New Jersey next cycle.

Positional Impact

The defensive line needs reinforcements with the loss of Robert Welsh, Micah Robinson and Trevon Trejo from the end position. Several others are getting to the end of their eligibility. Syracuse needs to add talented defensive ends with size, speed and athleticism that coach Tim Daoust can mold into big time players.

Pickard joins a defensive end haul that includes Amir Ealey, Qaadir Sheppard and Brandon Ginnetti, though Ginnetti has deferred his enrollment until January of 2016. That group of ends gives Syracuse plenty to work with in terms of talent and upside. Each player is a northeast prospect as well.

Pickard has to add weight to his frame, add some strength and work on some technique, but his potential is definitely there. You can’t teach a 6-foot-6 body with long arms and superb athleticism. He should impact the Syracuse defense sooner rather than later.

Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?

National Signing Day is rapidly approaching and this weekend is the last official visit weekend before players can put ink to paper. Syracuse is hosting defensive back prospect Kielan Whitner, who is committed to Appalachian State but was offered by Syracuse on Thursday.

Whitner is giving Syracuse a real look, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Syracuse wants at least one more defensive back in this class, and he looks like the top target at this point.

Beyond that, Syracuse holding on to defensive tackle Steven Clark on Thursday is big. It means they don’t have to find a backup plan option at DT and can move forward rounding out the class.

Syracuse could take two or three more players this class. If Whitner is one of them, the other could be a bit tricky. There may be a defensive back name that will creep into the picture late or is also visiting this weekend.

The Orange could also choose to take the best player available, which may be defensive line prospect Kenny Carter who is also from New Jersey. Carter has the versatility to play defensive end or tackle down the road, and that may land him a spot depending on the direction the staff wants to go.

UPDATE: Carter committed to Syracuse.

Also standing out there is former Syracuse and Marshall pledge Doyle Grimes. Syracuse is definitely interested after he decommitted from the Thundering Herd on Monday. His decision will not likely be made public until signing day.

Final Thoughts

This recruiting win is big not only because of the player and the programs Syracuse beat, but because it shows the job this coaching staff can do on the recruiting trail. Patience paid off here as did a ‘never say die’ attitude. If Syracuse can backup a strong recruiting class with a winning season, things may start to pick up steam quickly for the Orange.

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