College coaches everywhere are basking in the glow of another National Letter of Intent Day come and gone. The usual suspects such as Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State reeled in their typical collection of highly-ranked recruits. Schools like Syracuse are forced to gage recruiting victories with a different measuring stick.
Scott Shafer and his staff secured 25 signatures as part of their quest to continue raising the level of recruiting that drastically fell off a cliff under the four year run piloted by He Who Shall Not Be Named. In order to return Syracuse football to a level of success enjoyed when players named McPherson, Graves, McNabb, Harrison, Konrad, Bullock, and Jones (Tebucky) ran wild in the Carrier Dome, a serious influx of talent is required. Both Shafer, and Doug Marrone before him, emphasized keeping New York State’s best players at home. Three New Yorkers inked with the Orange in this class; Qaadir Sheppard, Tyrone Perkins, and Jordan Fredericks. But it hasn’t always been that easy. Here’s a look at five coveted New York players who chose greener pastures over the past handful of years.
This 5-star defensive end out of Brooklyn signed with Notre Dame back in 2011. Syracuse and Penn State also made the final cut before eventually losing out to the Irish. Despite both of his parents having gone to SU, that wasn’t enough to lure the highly sought youngster upstate. Williams missed the entire 2014 season due to a suspension.
One year later, the Irish landed another top New York prospect. This time, it was the 4-star Jones from right down the Thruway in Rochester. Jones has developed into a force on the Notre Dame defensive line through two seasons.
Another 2012 prospect, 3-star quarterback Chad Kelly, chose orange over the Orange. Kelly, the nephew of Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly, signed with the Clemson Tigers. Kelly’s career with the Tigers never got off the ground after he lost out on the starting quarterback job last spring to Cole Stoudt. After numerous behavioral issues, Clemson dismissed Kelly from the program in April.
As if losing out to Notre Dame in back-to-back years wasn’t enough, Clemson turned the same trick in 2013 when Ogundeko, another Brooklyn product, signed with the Tigers. The 3-star player, now lining up at defensive end for Dabbo Swinney, has amassed a mere four tackles in three games through two seasons.
The 3-star running back from Staten Island originally committed to Syracuse’s 2013 class. That all changed when Marrone left for the NFL. Miami swooped in and offered Edwards a spot in South Beach. Over two seasons, Edwards has been rather productive for the Hurricanes. He’s run for 687 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Every recruiting class for every school has its hits and misses each season. While the star ranking system is fun for the fans and the drama of NLI Day unleashes eternal optimism for the upcoming season, class rankings are best left to be evaluated once the player finishes his collegiate career. And if there’s a lesson to be learned about those can’t-miss prospects that got away, it’s that sometimes you’re just better off.