For guys like Nick Monroe, National Letter of Intent Day marks the apex of college football recruiting season.
The first Wednesday of each February brings to an unofficial close the yearly marathon of college coaches chasing the signatures of teenagers.
Coaches are partly hired and fired for their ability to get kids to sign on the dotted line. Remember, no matter the sport or how well a coach can X and O with his counterpart, talent usually wins out in the end.
Don’t believe me? Ask Bill Belichick how life has been with Tom Brady.
Belichick is widely recognized as the best NFL coach ever. But after one of season of pigskin in Tompa Bay, scads of Patriots fans consider Belichick to be a goat for not bringing back The GOAT.
Dino Babers and his staff secured 21 of those signatures along with one big-time transfer for the Class of 2021.
The class is highlighted by cornerback Duce Chestnut, quarterback Justin Lamson, five offensive linemen, and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader. Shrader, a former 4-star QB, brings P5 talent to the Orange QB room.
His presence last season could’ve prevented the season from being a total loss once Tommy DeVito was lost for the year. Though, Shrader would’ve been hard-pressed to overcome the avalanche of injuries Syracuse endured.
Syracuse’s class ranks near the bottom of the ACC as it annual has since the Orange joined the league.
The writers on various recruiting websites who assign stars, gaze into Crystal Balls, and make Future Casts don’t think too fondly of Dino’s new Orange group. Whether they are right or not, and what to do about it, is a subject for another day.
Much of the recruiting success Syracuse does enjoy comes thanks to Nick Monroe.
Every staff has at least one ace recruiter. Monroe dons that mantle for the Orange. And he seems like the right guy for the job.
The man is faith driven, humble and hungry, and operates at one speed: all gas, no brakes. And that’s just from his Twitter account! Plus, he’s got a sweet ride!
Recruiting is arguably THE most important of Monroe’s many tasks that he performs for HCDB – that’s Head Coach Dino Babers to you and me – and Syracuse football.
His fingerprints are all over the Class of 2021.
Monroe was the primary for Syracuse’s highest rated recruit, Duce Chestnut. The staff had to know of the strong likelihood that Andre Cisco, Trill Williams, and Iffy Melifonwu could all potentially depart for the NFL Draft. Chestnut was a critical recruit from talent-rich New Jersey.
Needing some bigger wide receivers, Monroe secured the pledge of Oronde Gadsden II. Having NFL bloodlines never hurts. And, Gadsden is from Florida.
When Dino Babers got the Syracuse job, he said he wanted to recruit the right players from New York. That includes the five Burroughs as most of the talent tends to come from there. Enter Nick Monroe.
The Swag Daddy landed commitments from LB Malik Matthew and DT Elijah Fuentes, both from the Bronx.
Matthew fits the role of bigger, stronger linebackers for Tony White’s 3-3-5 defense. Fuentes was rumored to be leaning towards Rutgers and Boston College at different points. Not only does Syracuse need him on the defensive line, but the Orange beat two regional recruiting foes, one being a conference rival, for his services.
Offensive line play has been an issue the past two seasons. Some of it can be attributed to injuries while some recruits haven’t seemed to pan out. If Syracuse doesn’t improve their line play, next season could be more of the same.
Monroe landed JUCO OL Jakob Bradford. Standing at 6-foot-4.5 and weighing 300 pounds, Bradford provides options, and depth, in the trenches.
While Monroe was the primary recruiter for those five players, he was also the secondary recruiter for two others.
Malcolm Folk projects as a hard-hitting safety while Tyler Magnuson is one of the five offensive lineman who signed with the Orange. Surely Monroe’s Minnesota roots paid dividends with Magnuson and Bradford, another Minnesota native.
It certainly seems like the man from the 10,00 lakes state has 10,000 contacts on the recruiting trail.
Monroe’s prime recruiting turf is Florida. He seems to spend almost as much time in the sunshine state as Mickey Mouse! The list of Florida recruits Monroe has landed is lengthy:
Mikel Jones, Neil Nunn, Cam Jonas, Latarie Kinsler, Rob Hanna, Damien Alford, Jason Munoz, Nadarius Fagan, James Pierre, Andre Cisco, Jaquwan Nelson, Oronde Gadsden, Ja’Vontae Williams, Kenneth Ruff, Akeem Dixon, Sharod Johnson, Adrian Cole, Ishmael Goulbourne, and McKinley Williams.
Monroe was the primary for most of the recruits but not all. Some of them didn’t work out for numerous reasons, such as grades and legal trouble. And some of them opted to transfer. But that happens to all recruiters. The key is Monroe closed the deal.
His success on the trail extends beyond Florida.
» Related: Syracuse adds Chase Simmons, Jakob Bradford on 2021 NLI Day
Trill Williams, Ravian Pierce, Ja’Had Carter, Evan Foster, and Chase Atkinson are all players that Monroe was either the primary or secondary recruiter.
Syracuse will be diligent with its few remaining Class of 2021 scholarships. Then it is on to the Class of 2022. Who will be the first commit? Perhaps someone like Bronx QB Henry Belin. Belin is being recruited by Monroe.
If Syracuse is going to turn the corner from last year’s disastrous season and become legitimate ACC contender, they need to continue injecting talent into the program. Nick Monroe will certainly have something to say about that.
And we’ve all seen how the Swag Daddy recruits.
All gas, no brakes.