Syracuse entered a huge official visit weekend with a class that was only 12 strong. Twelve players were visiting as well, nine of whom were not committed to the Orange. After Tuesday's final announcement, Syracuse was able to snag all nine prospects to rise their class count to 21.
Let's take a look at each player who committed in the order in which they pulled the trigger.
Michael Clark is a three-star offensive tackle with length and upside. Clark kicked off the flurry of commitments Saturday morning after snagging the offer the night before. He said Syracuse was his dream school ever since he saw the movie The Express. After overcoming epilepsy, the talented lineman fufilled that dream. The way he committed was also pretty cool. During a team meeting when hosts normally introduce their recruit and finish by saying committed or uncommitted. Instead, his host, Zack Mahoney, pointed to Clark who announced his decision in front of the entire team and caoches to their surprise.
Syracuse wanted to add one running back to the class, and Mike Hart was able to help them do just that. He helped the Orange reel in former Western Michigan commit and three-star back Jo-El Shaw. Shaw is a power back who is a force between the tackles and has better speed than you would expect for his size. Shaw's father's family is from the Utica area while his mom's family is from New York City.
McKinley Williams is an under the radar defensive tackle prospect. He moves well, gets into the backfield and uses his hands very well. Despite Williams being under the radar, he still had another power five offer in Pittsburgh. Williams cited the vibe at Syracuse along with a strong relationship with the coaching staff as reasons for his decision. He was the final commitment on Saturday.
Evan Foster is a former Bowling Green commit who seemed to have Syracuse at or near the top of his list when the staff transitioned to the Orange. Despite that, Big-10 schools like Purdue, Iowa and Iowa State pursued heavily. Syracus was able to fend them off and Foster pulled the trigger Sunday morning.
Less than an hour later, three-star defensive end Jaquwan Nelson committed to Syracuse. He was one of the top priorities entering the weekend. Nick Monroe recruited him very hard and the staff wanted him bad. Nelson is a former Miami commit who had Kentucky and Georgia after him. Snagging him during the visit was huge for the Orange. Nelson says he is shutting down his recruitment after committing.
About 40 minutes after that, Syracuse landed another Sunshine State prospect. This time in outside linebacker/safety prospect Rashad Smith. Smith was committed to Florida Atlantic entering the trip, but Syracuse made a big impression right away. He loved the facilities, the team and the coaches. Seeing a perfect fit, Smith joined the Orange to make three commitments in a matter of a couple hours Sunday morning.
Wrapping up the day with the fourth commitment for the Orange was three-star Devin Butler. Butler is listed as a safety prospect, but with his length and speed, Syracuse wants him to play receiver. Butler is a former Maryland commit who is also a track star. Getting the go-ahead to play track at Syracuse as well was paramount in his decision. Combine that with Butler feeling at home during the visit and the commitment was a no-brainer for the 6-foot-3 talent.
Mondary morning saw the eighth commitment from the visit weekend in three-star defensive end Joshua Black. Black wanted to go home and discus things with his family before making the final decision. Once he did that, it was clear Syracuse was the home for him. Black is a former Illinois commit who was high on the Orange even when he was committed elsewhere. The staff had developed a strong relationship with him from their time at Bowling Green and that paid dividends here.
On Tuesday, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. Three-star outside linebacker Tim Walton entered the weekend visit as an Illinois commit. After returning home and sleeping on the trip, Walton decommitted from the Illini on Monday. One day later, he committed to Syracuse. His dad told our Allen Trieu that they felt at home during the visit to Syracuse and that ultimately led to the final decision.
Syracuse has had some strong official visit weekends in the past, but none like that in recent memory. Landing all nine players that were not committed is huge. Not only did they snag talented players over other power five programs, but they filled positions of need at the same time while hitting some key recruiting areas.
Syracuse added players from the Midwest, the Northeast and the South over the weekend. That only helps their efforts moving forward. National Signing Day is right around the corner, and their efforts were critical to making that a successful day for the Orange.