You submitted questions to us through our community forum about Syracuse basketball, football and recruiting. Here are those questions and the answers.
Q: There is a considerable amount of confusion over what 2021 will look like. What seniors will stay, what players will leave for NFL and which may choose to transfer? How much will the transfer portal be expanded this year with the opportunity for extra eligibility and immediate eligibility? Does Syracuse stand to benefit or get hurt by this? What is the JUCO market like and how will SU work with that? With less than 60 players left for 2020 and an expanded roster allowed, is there any limit to the number of new guys that SU can get?
A: A lot to unpack here but I will do my best to address everything. Which seniors stay and which leave via NFL or transfer remains to be seen. The Syracuse seniors have said during media opportunities that they want to finish out this season and then make those decisions. Ultimately what they decide will have an impact on what Syracuse does in the offseason. But that goes for the entire roster, not just the seniors. How many decide to transfer? How many stick around and use that extra year of eligibility? All of that has an impact on what Syracuse does during the next offseason and for years to come. We wrote about the possible scenarios a few weeks ago, which you can check out HERE.
I will provide a shorter answer though. The NCAA is expected to pass a one time transfer rule that grants all first time transfers immediate eligibility. That will make the transfer portal very active next offseason. Yes I expect Syracuse to be involved as well as with the JUCO market. I would anticipate having about four slots as of right now for transfers and JUCOs, barring a barrage of unexpected departures. The limit for Syracuse bringing in players is still at 25 high school and JUCO recruits. There are some variables there with deferring prospects to previous classes, etc. Transfers do not count against that 25 numbers. But as I mentioned, I expect Syracuse to have around four spots available for transfers and JUCOs to go with the 21 players they currently have committed.
Q: Let the people know how many 4 star recruits on any one site at any given time have actually been signed during Babers tenure.
A: Keep in mind some prospects are four stars on one recruiting service but not another. Here are the four stars who have signed with (or are verbally committed) Syracuse under Babers.
2017: Tommy DeVito (247Sports, ESPN)
2018: Trill Williams (247Sports), Qadir White (247Sports), Ed Hendrix (ESPN)
2019: Cornelius Nunn (247Sports), Lee Kpogba (Rivals), Mikel Jones (Rivals, ESPN)
2021: Duce Chestnut (Rivals), Enrique Cruz (247Sports)
Q: Did we fall out of favor with Mac Etienne? Saw a recent article where weren’t even mentioned.
A: Yes Syracuse appears to be on the outside looking in at this point in time. Happened several weeks ago. There was some hope at one point that Syracuse would be a major player throughout, but it seems Illinois jumped to the forefront several weeks ago. There are other schools involved as well, but the Orange are on the outside. I wouldn't count on him joining the class.
Q: Has there ever been a Syracuse head coach who’s tenure was more riddled by injury? Realistically how many bowl games do we go to with a healthy Dungey every year?
A: Scott Shafer had some injury issues as well, but not to this extent. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a valid comparison. Dungey missed multiple games each year until his senior season. Now this year Syracuse is missing more than 25 players. I'm not sure what the solution is, but the one year they were largely healthy was 2018 when they won 10 games. How many more bowl games would Syracuse have gone to with Dungey staying healthy? Tough to say. If you look at 2016, Dungey missed the last three games. A close loss to NC State where Dungey may have made a difference, a blowout loss to Florida State and a high scoring loss at Pittsburgh. I think maybe one more win, but not enough to get to a bowl. In 2017, it was a similar story where there was one close game and two blowout losses. I'm not sure they get to a bowl game there either.
Q: Which prospect or prospects do you think that Syracuse basketball has the best chances of getting for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 cycles (obviously besides Benny W. and Dior J.)?
2021: I believe Syracuse's class stays as a one man class with Benny Williams, and other scholarships are saved for transfer portal targets.
2022: Roddy Gayle, Justin Taylor, Ty Rodgers, JJ Starling, Donovan Clingan, Riley Mulvey. They've got a realistic shot with each of those players. Chance Westry as well, but I just have a feeling that getting Gayle and/or Taylor would eliminate him from coming here. I think Syracuse is in the best position for Gayle and Taylor. Syracuse is recruiting Rodgers extremely hard as well. JJ Starling they've got a shot, but it may depend on Dior. If he comes to Syracuse, I think it's more likely Starling goes elsewhere. If Dior turns pro, Starling becomes much more realistic. Clingan will be a national recruit and tough to get, but they've done a really good job early. Mulvey likes Syracuse a lot as well. It is likely one of Clingan or Mulvey, not both.
2023: It is still VERY early, but I would say wing Elijah Fisher. A Canadian prospect with length and a terrific all around game, he would be a great fit.
Q: Where does Syracuse Football need to be ranked annually in the recruiting rankings to be relevant in the ACC?
A: Sometimes I think the team recruiting ranking is overblown to some extent. Quantity plays a factor in those, which can skew it if Syracuse generally takes smaller classes to hold spots for transfers. That said, I think if Syracuse is in the 40s or 50s, and they have a strong player development program, they can be relevant. That's how you build it at a place like Syracuse. After a few years of winning, the hope is that ranking starts to creep up a bit.
Q: You get to handpick three 4th/5th year players to come back for next season. Who are they?
A: There are probably more than three but these would be my choices: DT McKinley Williams, DL Josh Black, Chris Elmore. Williams is the starting tackle and I think another year in the 3-3-5 would be good for him. Black has been a strong multi-year starter. Another year for him in the new system would be good. He and Williams would provide depth along the defensive line. Elmore was kind of a biased pick for me. The kid does whatever the team asks. Fullback, defensive line, offensive line. Such a selfless kid who I would love to see play for another year, regardless of where they put him. Others I considered that are worthy selections include Nolan Cooney, Nykeim Johnson, Airon Servias, and others.
Q: You get to pick three positions to add a GT or plug and play JUCO. What are they?
A: Part of this will depend on who stays of that group from the previous question. That said, I'd look at an offensive tackle to either replace or compete with Airon Servais. Having a capable backup would be important. Defensive end would be a position I would look at as well. Then I might go offensive line again and look for depth along the interior. They have been so decimated by injuries along the offensive line that bringing in another experienced body would only help the entire roster. If you are looking for an honorable mention, it would depend on what Tommy DeVito does. Assuming he comes back, I think you're fine at quarterback. If he leaves, bringing in a grad transfer to add some experience to the quarterback room may be worth evaluating.
Q: Once Dior announces he’s skipping college, who gets the full court press? Don’t say Zion Cruz.
A: I don't think it changes the priorities. Syracuse will be going hard after Roddy Gayle, Justin Taylor, Ty Rodgers and the group mentioned in a previous question. What it might do is make JJ Starling look at Syracuse as a more realistic option. With Dior there, he may not want to come in as the second point guard. Without Dior, he may be someone who looks harder at Syracuse.
Q: Can you see the team signing a JUCO/transfer safety with some size in order to fill the gap of Cisco (and possibly Trill )? Need some serious help against the run.
A: If someone became available that was viewed as a difference making talent, sure. That said, I think with the experience Ja'Had Carter, Rob Hanna and Aman Greenwood have gotten this season, they are more likely to stick with their young guys. Expect those guys to get bigger each year as well.
Q: Any chance we get the senior D-Linemen to all come back? What positions should be the focus for 2022 class?
A: There is a chance. I don't think any of McKinley Williams, Kingsley Jonathan, Josh Black or Cody Roscoe are high on NFL Draft Boards. Another year playing would serve them well, and obviously be good for Syracuse. So there is a realistic chance they all come back.
In the 2022 class, it is a bit tricky. The extra year of eligibility may cause the class to be much smaller than normal. Still, they are always going to go after a quarterback each cycle. Beyond that, I think offensive line and defensive line will be important as they always are. Defensive back will be an area they look at as well. Nyair Graham is one of their top targets and is a linebacker, so do not be surprised if they bring in one backer.
Q: Because I feel it’s inevitable unfortunately when we move on from Dino who would you like Cuse to target for HC? In the same area when Boeheim retires who do you think the spot for men’s basketball head coach goes to?
A: I actually don't think it is inevitable that Syracuse moves on from Dino. I do think there is a very real chance that Syracuse is healthy next season and has a bowl season. That would definitely keep Babers around. That said, in the event they did move on, who would they target? My guess is a young up and coming coach. Perhaps they take a look at Sean Lewis, who has done a nice job turning Kent State around and was the offensive coordinator under Babers during the first two years at SU. Bringing him in would mean you would not have to have a complete overhaul of assistants nor of the offensive system.
Basketball wise, when Boeheim retires, I think strong consideration goes to assistants such as Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara. Otherwise, an established coach at another major program is not the likely route. I could see someone who has done well at a non power five school being in the mix.
Q: Any JUCO guys they are targeting?
A: Yes. Syracuse is looking at the JUCO ranks for potential options to add to the roster next season. One player they offered is defensive tackle Isaiah Iton. He likes Syracuse, but is still early in his process as he has started to pick up SEC and other power five offers. Still a ways to go there.
Q: Any 2022 or 2023 dual threat QBs in play?
A: Syracuse's top target in the 2022 class at quarterback is Henry Belin. Belin can move a bit, but is more of a pocket passer. He has a cannon for an arm and would a really nice addition. In 2023, the offers extended are not true dual threat types so far. It is very early in that cycle though.
Q: Do you think the team’s poor showing this year will cause any recruits to decommit? What positional needs still haven’t been addressed?
A: That is certainly a risk, but it seems largely the recruits still view Babers and Syracuse as headed in the right direction. I have asked them all about this after the Liberty loss. They all seem very solidly on board. The one caveat to that is offensive lineman Austyn Kauhi, who has stated he is keeping an open mind to Central Florida.
As far as what needs haven't been addressed, I'm not sure there is a specific position for high school prospects that they need to add. They've done a nice job grabbing 21 players and filling needs they had such as five offensive linemen, a couple of receivers, and several defensive linemen.
Q: How much impact is the Dome having on 2021 recruiting?
A: It has not had a huge impact to be honest. That is mostly because visits are not allowed due to the pandemic. If visits are allowed again at some point, I think the new Dome renovations would have an impact on the 2022 recruiting class.