When Scott Shafer took over as head coach, one of his first hires was George McDonald as offensive coordinator. McDonald came with a reputation as a strong recruiter, specifically in Florida. He helped the Orange land some talented players in the Sunshine State over the last two cycles.
But lost in his efforts was the work Tim Lester was doing in the Tampa area. He was developing relationships, visiting some schools that regularly produce division one talent and creating is own reputation in the area.
With McDonald now gone, Syracuse has shuffled their assistant coaches’ responsibilities in the state, but Lester remains in Tampa.
The recruitment and commitment of Culpepper shows Lester’s persistence and ability as a recruiter. Landing a player like Culpepper who is known in the state and boasts an impressive offer list can only help when the Orange recruit other Sunshine State prospects.
One player Culpepper’s commitment could impact is defensive back Scoop Bradshaw. Bradshaw is a teammate of Culpepper and put Syracuse on top after the two visited together on Tuesday. It is entirely possible he decides within the next week to 10-days. If he does, Syracuse seems to be a heavy favorite.
Expect Culpepper to continue to help Syracuse recruit Bradshaw as well as other prospects in the state.
There was always only one quarterback slot available for Syracuse in the 2016 class. Rex Culpepper skyrocketed to the top of their board during the spring after watching him in person and further evaluating his film.
Previous top targets Anthony Brown and Sawyer Smith slipped behind Culpepper on the priority list. Once Syracuse learned the interest was mutual, they made a big push and were able to land the 6-foot-3 signal caller.
With Culpepper in the mix, Syracuse now has three athletic quarterback prospects joining Kenterius Womack and Eric Dungey in the 2015 class. That trio will combine with A.J. Long to fight for the starting gig in 2016. That is four dual threat quarterbacks, which shows where Syracuse is going with the position.
Athleticism and the ability to extend plays with their feet are critical attributes for Lester’s offense.
Culpepper is an intriguing option as he is more physically imposing than the others. In fact, Scout’s John Garcia Jr. compares him to a college football legend in Tim Tebow.
”Culpepper has the size at 6-3, 225, deliberate throwing motion, lack of pocket polish and athleticism of the Florida great,” he said. “Some things, like the speed of his delivery, down-the-field arm strength and level of high school competition, are actually better (again, with this tiny sample) than ole No. 15. He has enough arm strength to throw across his body, or against the grain, even when he shouldn't.
”But when he's settled in the pocket, he does look comfortable, and has good speed on his delivery though as we mentioned the mechanics aren't exactly ideal. Find a mid-point between Mitch Kimble and Tim Tebow, and Rex Culpepper could be just a tad on the plus-side of that line.”
If Syracuse gets that type of player and production, the Orange found themselves quite a player in Rex Culpepper. Should he become the quarterback of the future, do not be surprised if you see Womack transition to wide receiver.
Where Does Syracuse Go From Here?
Syracuse will focus their immediate attention to the rest of their visitors this week. They include four-star wide receiver Brad Hawkins, three-star linebacker Dymelle Parker, three-star defensive end Jamal Holloway, defensive back Will Harper, athlete Amir Tyler, inside linebacker Solomon Manning, outside linebacker Jamir Jones and others.
Harper and Tyler should be on commitment watch as should Manning. None should be considered as likely as Culpepper was to pull the trigger, but all have a shot.
Parker and Holloway are interesting prospects. Syracuse likes both a lot, but both appear to be staying patient with their process. This visit is critical for the Orange staying in it until the end.
Hawkins is one of the best receivers in the class, and this is Syracuse’s chance to make an impression. Obviously this will be a difficult recruitment to win, but you don’t have a shot unless you get him on campus.
Don’t expect a rash of commitments after this one, however. Syracuse is still expected to maintain their patient approach this summer.
Syracuse also has camps coming up over the next couple of weeks. Offers could be extended during that time as they discover new prospects.
Culpepper is a very nice get for Syracuse. His skill set is coveted by the Orange coaching staff. They were able to get the guy they viewed as the most talented of their quarterback targets. Once again, Syracuse is able to close when they get players on campus.