How many players can Syracuse take in the 2016 class? That question has been bantered about throughout the cycle, so let’s take a look at the numbers actually work out. This is all under the assumption that Marquise Blair ends up being cleared by the NCAA.
Syracuse is currently expected to have 68 scholarship players returning for the 2016 season. That includes Adam Giordano, who was a late addition to the roster for the upcoming season. The NCAA has a scholarship limit of 85 players, meaning there are 17 slots available for the 2016 recruiting cycle.
One of those slots goes to Brandon Ginnetti, a defensive end who committed to Syracuse in the 2015 cycle but had to defer his enrollment due to an injury.
That leaves 16 total spots for the 2016 class. There are 11 players currently committed to the Orange this cycle. So there would be only five spots left for the rest of the class.
Syracuse has two visitors on the 16th in h-back target Moe Neal and defensive end Jamal Holloway. Both could commit before heading back home. If they do, that leaves only three spots for the rest of the class.
With targets Donald Stewart, Gene Coleman, Jay Rose, Sam Letton, Albert Okwuegbunam, Patrick Kearns, Blake Hickey, Colby Reeder, Cycoby Burch, Martin Mangram, Eric Burrell, and Devon Clarke all still available, Syracuse will be very selective.
But are there really only five slots available going forward? There seems to be attrition in every recruiting cycle. Transfers, players leaving early for the NFL Draft or careers ending early. The likely number is probably seven spots.
Assuming it is only five, it would likely be filled by an h-back, one defensive end, one tight end and two defensive backs. If it moves up to seven, add in a defensive tackle and another defensive back. The last slot could also be another offensive lineman or wide receiver.
How would that number jump up to seven? Maybe Ron Thompson has a big year and leaves early. What if Kenterius Womack and/or Eric Dungey pass Austin Wilson or A.J. Long on the depth chart? It’s possible Wilson or Long looks to transfer given that scenario.
Those are just two obvious options for freeing up more scholarships. At this time last year, no one saw Marcus Coleman or Isaiah Johnson ending their careers because of injury. Or Jalen Harvey transferring or Wayne Williams leaving the program.
Another not-so-attractive options is taking the scholarships of Donnie Foster and Cole Murphy away after the former walk-ons were granted them for this coming season. Scholarships are currently one-year contracts, so this is technically an option. But it would not look good from a perception standpoint. This is not a likely scenario.
The max Syracuse will bring in is likely closer to 22, but almost certainly more than the 17 remaining spots given the almost certain attrition that happens after every season.
In a perfect world, here is how Syracuse would want their class to round out: Moe Neal, Jamal Holloway, Jay Rose, Cycoby Burch, Eric Burrell, Albert Okwuegunam and Colby Reeder. The last two would be removed if they could only take five.