New Jersey has become a key pipeline state for Syracuse, landing four players from the state in 2015. In the 2016 cycle, they have their sights set even higher with the potential to more than double that haul.
The Orange landed four talented players in the 2015 class out of New Jersey, three of which were rated as three-star prospects. Running back Dontae Strickland was the first to pull the trigger, committing over last summer. Syracuse held off a late push from Georgia to bring the talented back into the fold. Shortly after he committed, good friend and defensive back Daivon Ellison pledged Orange.
Late in the cycle, Syracuse was able to flip defensive end Jake Pickard from Wisconsin. The Badgers had a coaching change that caused Pickard to reconsider his summer verbal. Despite a push from Michigan, Syracuse was the choice. Later the same night, Syracuse added another defensive lineman in Kenny Carter. He is an under the radar, high upside type of player.
Syracuse also added a preferred walk-on in linebacker Kyle Kleinberg. He was a high school teammate of the aforementioned Ellison.
Top 2016 Targets
Syracuse has already offered 14 players in New Jersey, with more certainly to come as the cycle progresses. Right now, the top targets are clear. The group is headlined by four-star offensive tackle Liam Smith. He has already visited the campus once and was in attendance for their game against Notre Dame last season at MetLife Stadium. Look for Smith to be back on campus this spring.
Also along the offensive line is guard Will Fries. Syracuse has loved his game since they first saw him during the evaluation period last year. They have been in hot pursuit ever since, staying in constant communication. He will likely visit with Smith this spring.
A key position for Syracuse in 2016 is wide receiver, and New Jersey has some talented ones.
Syracuse has already offered Gene Coleman, Jovani Haskins, K.J. Gray, Donald Stewart and Kolton Huber. There are probably only three or four slots available at the position. One would likely be held for New York’s Taysir Mack. The top targets in New Jersey for the Orange are Coleman, Haskins, Steward and Huber.
Syracuse will continue to recruit each very hard, hoping to land two or three of them. If all four of their wide receiver slots come from New Jersey, Syracuse would be very happy with that.
Another top target is quarterback Anthony Brown. Syracuse was his first power conference offer, and he has since received more. He works out in the offseason with former Orange quarterback Madei Williams. There is likely only one quarterback slot this cycle, so it will be interesting to see if either Brown or local kid Jack Brotzki decide to jump aboard early.
Other Names To Monitor
Syracuse also has an offer out to two-way lineman Ulises De Los Santos and defensive end Jamal Holloway. Both could be on campus for a spring visit, depending on the interest level of Syracuse. Holloway seems to be the bigger priority. Holloway, however, has already picked up a Michigan State offer. It likely came from former defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who is expected to pursue him as Pittsburgh’s new head coach.
Three-star running back Tyler Thompson also has an offer. Syracuse tried to get him on campus last year, but were unsuccessful. They will try again, but there may only be one or two slots available at running back. Four-star Robert Washington out of North Carolina is the top target, and the Orange have made his top six. They will likely see that play out before going all-in on someone else.
Jeff Wiley camped at Syracuse last cycle and will likely do so again this summer. Syracuse likes his size and athleticism, and he is a name to watch that could potentially get an offer down the road.
According to Timer Creek High head coach Rob Hinson, Syracuse has expressed interest in wide receiver/defensive back Noah Ellison. No offer yet, but he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Tight end/linebacker/defensive end Tyreek Williams is another talented player there who garner interest down the road.
With Bobby Acosta as the recruiting director, there should be a bigger northeast focus this cycle. New Jersey will be a huge state for Syracuse. A double-digit haul would not be surprising. Look for Syracuse to continue to get players on campus for visits, especially once the 2015 Garden State prospects are part of the program. Having them show around other players from the state will help continue to build that pipeline for Syracuse.
This cycle will see Syracuse go full-bore into New Jersey, targeting the top players in the state. Expect them to continue to be aggressive.