From Deshaun Watson to Dexter Lawrence, teams are winning with true freshmen these days. So, which incoming ACC freshmen will make major contributions for their team in 2017? We’re picking our favorites this week.
Next up, Syracuse.
Recruit: Markenzy Pierre, No. 52 running back
How he got to Syracuse: One of five recruits Dino Babers pulled from Florida, the Kissimmee native committed to the Orange in October -- the only Power 5 school to offer him.
Why he will make an impact: The truth is, there may not be a ton of instant impact players in Babers’ first full recruiting class at Syracuse, both because it’s a group that probably benefits from some time to grow as redshirts and because the Orange simply don’t lose much from last year’s roster.
The biggest vacancies are at receiver and tight end, but it could be that last year’s starting tailback, Dontae Strickland, will move to the slot, where he’s probably a better fit. That could open the door for carries for Pierre, who might be a true diamond in the rough for Syracuse.
From a scout’s perspective, Pierre earned mixed grades. ESPN’s assessment is that he’s a solid downhill back without significant burst or agility. But look at his numbers at Liberty High School and -- well, it’s tough to argue with production. He finished his high school career with more than 5,000 yards, including nearly 2,600 as a senior to go with 30 touchdowns.
That’s the kind of performer Babers is looking for on the recruiting trail, and at 5-foot-11 and 218 pounds, he’s already got enough size and strength to play quickly, likely splitting time in the Orange backfield with Moe Neal.