It did not take long for the new Syracuse football staff to get a big recruiting win. Kenneth Ruff flipped his commitment from Virginia to Syracuse during his official visit, giving the Orange one of the South's top inside linebacker prospects.
This is big for several reasons. First, it creates buzz among the fan base. Anytime you take a player who is highly rated, has an impressive offer list and was committed to a fellow ACC school, it excites the fan base. Given the lack of enthusiasm for the program among the fan base, specifically evidenced by poor attendance, anything that gets fans excited is a big positive.
This does that.
Second, Syracuse has to win recruiting battles against fellow ACC schools. If they want to get back being a consistent bowl team every year, winning over other middle tier ACC program is critical. Ruff was committed to Virginia originally and also held an offer from Georgia Tech. Not to mention, he was also offered early by Clemson and North Carolina. The two teams who played in the ACC title game.
Beating ACC schools for recruits should not be underestimated.
Third, Ruff also held offers from three SEC schools (Ole Miss, Kentucky and South Carolina) and a Big-10 school (Illinois). Landing legitimate power five talent with offers like that is very important for Syracuse and important for the new staff. It calms any fears of recruiting attrition with the loss of Scott Shafer's staff.
Fourth, Ruff comes from a talent hot bed. Florida recruiting can really help Syracuse add depth, talent, athleticism and speed to their roster. Landing a player like Ruff does just that. He is the 5th best inside linebacker in Florida in 2016 and is a highly regarded player in the state among coaches and recruits.
Syracuse's ability to flip him shows assistant Nick Monroe, his lead recruiter, is well respected in the state and has strong recruiting connections. Not to mention, he is able to target a player and close in a short timeframe.
Make no mistake about it. This was a big splash for the new Syracuse coaches. And it may not be the last.