Few recruits in recent memory have generated as much buzz within the Syracuse football fan base as four-star Huntersville (N.C.) SouthLake Christian running back Robert Washington. His April 25th announcement is rapidly approaching, and Orange fans are in eager anticipation.
Washington will be deciding between six teams. Syracuse, North Carolina, TCU, Alabama, Michigan and Florida. Those are six of the dozens of big time programs that have offered the four-star running back.
What if he chose Syracuse? What would it mean to the program?
Simply put, it would have a profound impact on several aspects of Syracuse football.
First, there is the obvious. Recruiting. Having a player of Washington’s stature commit early allows him to help a program recruit for the rest of the cycle. It sends a national message that Syracuse is ready to compete on the national stage on the recruiting front.
It sends a message to their top targets as well. It may even cause some targets take a second, harder look at Syracuse. Washington can get in their ear and help recruit a high caliber of athlete to Central New York. His clout and stature will mean something to top Orange targets.
That is in the 2016 class and beyond. Moe Neal, a three-star athlete, is good friends with Washington. That could help attract him to Syracuse. In 2017, Robert’s cousin, Aapri Washington, is one of the more talented defensive backs in the class. Having Robert at Syracuse would only enhance where the Orange stand with him.
Both Moe Neal and Aapri Washington hold offers from Syracuse.
Still early in the cycle, a commitment from Washington would give the Orange a lot of momentum heading into the late spring/early summer period.
On the field, Washington would give Syracuse a stud feature back who could become the building block around Tim Lester’s new offense. His offense is supposed to include 12 personnel and power running sets with some spread mixed in.
Washington would be as talented a running back as Syracuse has brought in, coming out of high school at least, in the last decade plus. Pair him with Dontae Strickland and Jordan Fredericks, and Syracuse would have a young and talented backfield. Both Strickland and Fredericks could compliment him well, assuming Washington develops as expected.
If you add Washington an offense that includes budding star Steve Ishmael at receiver, a dynamic playmaker in Ervin Philips at h-back, promising receivers Jamal Custis and Adly Enoicy, and suddenly have you a skill position group ready to compete in the ACC.
The development of the quarterback would be critical, of course, but there are some young guns in the mix that could fill that role. Regardless of who is the signal caller, they would have plenty of weapons.
Off the field, Washington would create a buzz around the program that it has not had in a long time. Someone that could get the casual fan to perk their ears up and start paying more attention to what Syracuse football is building.
One could argue that should happen now, but that is a whole separate discussion. Regardless, Washington’s presence would give a jolt to the fan base and the community.
Yes Washington committing to Syracuse would be a huge deal on many levels. Yes it can be too much to put all of that on one recruit. But Syracuse recruiting has been trending in the right direction since Scott Shafer and his staff took over. Washington would be the culmination of that and further exemplify that things are turning around.
On April 25th, it’ll either be a huge day for the Syracuse football program, or, it will be “next man up” time once again.