A quick take on Syracuse football’s 2021 National Signing Day:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse won two recruiting battles on Wednesday, signing defensive end Chase Simmons, who flipped from Coastal Carolina, and JUCO offensive lineman Jakob Bradford. Still, the Orange didn’t get an NLI from defensive lineman Jaelin Moss, who is still committed to the Orange for now.
- Simmons committed to Coastal Carolina back in November, but did not sign during the early signing period. The Orange swooped in with the offer on Jan. 24, and the South Carolina prospect flipped on Wednesday morning. Simmons is rated three stars by 247 Sports, and also held offers from Arkon, Charlotte, and Georgia State, among others. The Orange was his only Power 5 offer.
- Bradford was a total wildcard heading into NLI day. The Orange offered Bradford back on Jan. 14, and at the time, SU was his only Power 5 offer. But then Virginia Tech offered on Jan. 31, and it was a two-team race until Wednesday morning. The Orange did this despite not having an offensive line coach, with Mike Cavanaugh departing for Arizona State. Bradford is a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, and is the 66th ranked junior college player.
ANALYSIS: The early signing period has mostly removed the drama out of the February NLI day. Syracuse already added 19 new players during the early signing period, and also received a commitment from former four-star quarterback Garrett Shrader, who transferred from Mississippi State in December. But the Orange was in the market to fortify its defensive line after Hayden Nelson, a former commit, flipped to be a walk-on at UCLA in November. While Syracuse’s 21 player class is only ranked 57th in the country, and actually dropped two spots in the ACC from 10th in 2020 to 12th in 2021, the overall quality of the recruit is better. 247 Sports rates SU’s average recruit as .844, up from .839 last year.
HERO: Bradford is also a key part of the puzzle as a versatile offensive lineman that gives depth to a unit that was battered last year by injuries and the denial of a wavier for Florida transfer OG Chris Bleich. The Orange should return four of five starters from last year’s line, including Airon Servais, Carlos Vettorello, Dakota Davis, and Matthew Bergeron. The addition of Bleich at guard and Bradford, who can play at tackle or guard, should give the Orange more margin for error. That doesn’t even include an incoming freshman class that features four-star offensive lineman Enrique Cruz Jr.
ZERO: Moss is the only Syracuse commitment that has yet to sign an NLI. The No. 3 prospect in New York has reportedly remained in contact with the coaching staff, and is related to former Syracuse superstar Chandler Jones. It’s unclear as to why he remains unsigned at the moment.
WHAT’S NEXT: Of 25 scholarships in this cycle, Syracuse is left with three scholarships (19 used on the early signing period, one going to Shrader, and the two used on Wednesday). One, presumably, is still earmarked for Moss, leaving two scholarships to work with. Where will Dino Babers and company go? The Orange has been in touch with Texas redshirt sophomore tackle Willie Tyler, who SU offered earlier in January as it continues to build depth for its beleaguered offensive line. Another position of need may be at defensive back. Syracuse lost several players in the offseason, with Andre Cisco, Trill Williams and Ifeatu Melifonwu all declaring early for the NFL Draft, and then redshirt freshman Neil Nunn reportedly being arrested on gun charges. The Orange would likely look to the transfer market for someone who can contribute right away.