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Evaluation: Belizaire Bassette

What is Syracuse getting in the talented defensive tackle?

Syracuse is back in south Florida, tangibly, having secured the commitment of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage defensive lineman Belizaire Bassette II fresh off of helping the Patriots to a Class 5A state championship. The program's run in 2020 was defensive-laden, with the new Orange pledge aiding a unit that held opponents to just 11 points per game. Heritage, which played multiple state champion programs along the way, dominated with a stout front seven.

At 6'1" and under 300 pounds, one would expect strong leverage and a consistent motor in Bassette's game and that's what comes through on tape versus both the pass and the run. Against top prep blockers, he can attack with a varying style equally tough to combat, whether it be from a power or quickness perspective. Plus lateral movement and efficient paths to the assignment pair to make for a tough cover when asked to block in a zone scheme, reach or on play calls with a mobile pocket.

Bassette helps in the modern game because he's an effective pass rusher. Single-blocking him with space, as spread football has accelerated in recent years, is right in his wheelhouse. He can win with strong hands, better extension and hand technique than most along with the lower-body power to push the pocket with force. There is enough quickness at play to potentially rush from the outside in, perhaps as the end man on the line of scrimmage on early downs, as well, depending on how much weight he adds to the frame in college. Bassette wrapped up his junior season with 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including six sacks and a safety in 13 games.

Against the run, Bassette is comfortable making plays in the wash. The leverage and power game, along with how quickly he engages a blocker, enables for equally fast disengagement. The redirection skill is present and the junior can finish with some power along the way. Awareness also shows up as games progress and linemen adjust to him. Bassette counters with some finnessee, including a smooth swim move and a power bound to move half a man over, to catch blockers trying to match his aggression off the snap.

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Of course the smaller frame, even in today's game, will draw some areas for improvement in the trenches. Bassette will need to fill out more in order to occupy a three-down role within the SEC, but that is to be expected after kicking off an ACC strength, conditioning and nutrition program. The few programs willing to play an old-school, power football game could see his frame as a weakness if paired with a larger offensive line. A lack of traditional length could limit some of the schematic versatility his prep game presents, too. But the recruiting win, coming over Bassette adding the likes of Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Washington State, Wake Forest, Memphis and others, is a big one from a program that continues to produce Power 5 prospects.