2014 Signing Day A Big Success For Syracuse Orange
By Abby Atwater
For those seeking an immediate assessment, national signing day was a successful venture for the Syracuse Orange.
247Sports.com ranked Syracuse's class No. 50 in the country, its best result since 2008, Greg Robinson's last year as head coach. Rivals also calculated the Orange's recruiting as its best since 2008, ranking it No. 52. Scout was slightly more cautious, placing Syracuse at No. 53, the best since 2010.
This was the deepest class Syracuse has recruited since they began archiving team rankings in 2002. To put things in perspective, Robinson’s last year recruiting he only had three recruits outside of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, compared to this year’s 17.
Syracuse landed four three-star linebackers, a four-star playmaking wide receiver in K.J. Williams, two potential successors at quarterback and a 6-foot-8 offensive tackle. Eighteen out of the 25 recruits have three or four stars.
Head Of The Class
Leading the 2014 recruitment class is K.J. Williams. Given Syracuse's struggles at wide receiver, it seems natural that at least one of five recruits rated three stars or higher would make an impact. Williams, at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, is expected to contribute immediately. He's the program’s first four-star wideout since Marcus Sales in 2008. Williams attended Liberty High School (Bethlehem, Pa.) where he was the player first recognized stepping off the bus by the opposing team.
In 2012, Williams pulled down 59 catches for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Williams is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals, the third-best prospect in Pennsylvania and the country's No. 31 wide receiver prospect. Williams moved Syracuse up Rivals' 2014 rankings from 71st to 57th, proving his worth to Syracuse. He is the highest-rated member of the 2014 class, the 154th best overall prospect according to Rivals.
Defense, defense, defense. Case closed.
The program needed defensive ends, defensive tackles and safeties.
The class of 2013 was an assortment of things, but mainly focused on the offensive line, and this year the Orange will need to flip the script. Fortunately, ACC territory has opened up recruiting grounds in the South and Midwest, and winning three out of four bowl games has given them great exposure for recruits.
A week ago, the interior part of the defensive line was a concern for Syracuse due to lack of depth, but Shafer and company have addressed those concerns substantially after earning commitments from Jalen Harvey and Kayton Samuels. Both are two-star prospects, but they both have a lot to prove and both have a chance to earn playing time as true freshmen. Syracuse also added Wayne Williams, who gives them a lot of size along the defensive line.
At defensive end, Syracuse has four dependable players returning, but they also add Chris Slayton.
Rodney Williams committed to the Orange back in the summer and had many asking: Is he the next Shamarko Thomas? He was a star in high school playing both football and basketball. The 5-foot-10, 185 pounder will play safety for the Orange and brings the talent that Thomas made famous at Syracuse.
He is returning from two seasons cut short by injury, which may have turned away many bigger schools. But he’s been adamant with his rehab, and believes he will be fully recovered when Syracuse starts camp. If so, the Orange may have one of the biggest steals of 2014 National Signing Day, leaving Buffalo and Temple crying.
Syracuse will return four starters along the offensive line in 2014, but developing a competent second string is still an issue for them. Joining the mix will be the underrated Chicago native Denzel Ward, a nearly 6-foot-9 and 320 pound lineman low on football experience, but high on potential.
Ward may have only been rated with three stars, but has the potential to be a household name in ACC circles. Ward’s size stands out the most, but he’s got solid footwork and hands too. The Orange needed help along the offensive trenches, and Ward is certainly that. Given that Syracuse returns tackles Sean Hickey and Ivan Foy, Ward would benefit from a redshirt year in 2014, but he possesses the ideal frame to play tackle for the Orange and could have a chance to compete with the players the Orange signed last year for spots.
What It Means
In total, this is a rather impressive 25-player recruiting class for the Orange. The class will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the pack in the ACC and be within the Top 50 nationally, which is a meaningful accomplishment and a significant step forward for The Orange. Recruiting has broken into the Midwest and the South, bringing in huge talent helping the Orange address a majority of their needs heading into 2014 and providing great potential for the future of the program.
All recruitment stats taken from Rivals.com, 247Sports, Scout.com, and The Post Standard.