Quarterback Recruits Choose Orange as NLI Day Looms

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Dec 8, 2018; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse head coach Dino Babers addresses the crowd during halftime of the Orange basketball team's 72-71 win over Georgetown at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Landing quality quarterback recruits is a must in the arms race that is today’s college football world.

Despite an offense that should allow an NFL-caliber QB to put up Madden-esque numbers, Dino Babers and his staff have, for numerous reasons, struggled to build quality depth behind Tommy DeVito.

But within the past few days, the Orange received two verbal commitments as National Letter of Intent Day is a mere week away.

During the December signing period, Syracuse received signatures from 18 recruits, got a commit from defensive back Chase Atkinson (who intends to sign next week) and landed transfer Chris Bleich, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound lineman from the Florida Gators. None of those 20 players were quarterbacks.

But that has now changed.

Jacobian Morgan got the ball rolling, er, throwing, with his commitment on Sunday.

Morgan is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound pro-style quarterback from Mississippi. The 3-star prospect only had offers from Jackson State and Austin Peay prior to pledging the Orange.

Mississippi isn’t exactly a Syracuse hot bed for recruiting. But Morgan will be the second player from the Magnolia State on the roster joining Columbia native Jarveon Howard.

Dillon Markiewicz committed to the Orange two days later.

Like Morgan, Power 5 programs weren’t hot on the trail of Markiewicz despite that he posted huge stats this past season in one of the most competitive high school divisions in Texas. His lone offer prior to visiting Syracuse was from Stephen F. Austin. Boise State did offer, though, the day before he committed to the Orange.

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Markiewicz already has great size and weight for a pro-style QB. He’s listed at 6-foot-4.5 and weighs 215 pounds. The 3-star recruit also credited new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Sterlin Gilbert with helping to secure his commitment.

Syracuse’s lack of experienced depth behind DeVito is one stumbling block that could easily derail the Orange’s quest to reverse the disappointing results of last season as Syracuse stumbled to a 5-7 record. Babers will be looking to rediscover the elixir that resulted in a 10-win campaign with Eric Dungey under center during his senior year.

Developing depth behind DeVito is crucial heading into Spring practice. Syracuse, and certainly DeVito, have no desire to relive a year that saw the former 4-star recruit lead the country in sacks allowed. DeVito was dropped 44 times behind the line of scrimmage.

Clayton Welch, last year’s back-up, has exhausted his eligibility. That leaves Rex Culpepper as the likely frontrunner to back up DeVito. Redshirt freshman David Summers, a former Maryland commit, could also push Culpepper for understudy duties.

Any chance the Orange has any chance of proving last year’s downturn was a mirage and not water seeking its level largely rests on DeVito’s arm. But success accompanied by massive numbers will result in NFL Draft considerations.

DeVito will be a redshirt junior next season. And a Syracuse return to being the hammer instead of the nail could see DeVito’s stock shoot up draft boards. Finding DeVito’s potential successor will prove to be that much easier the more Babers and his staff can stock the roster with quality quarterback recruits. That search will no doubt continue with the Class of 2021.

The quarterbacks’ room at Syracuse just got a little more crowded.

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About Steve Auger 104 Articles
Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. His work has been published on Care.com, Tom’s of Maine, Purina’s Petcentric.com and the Westford Patch. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. Follow him on Twitter @Corner_Cube.