Syracuse picked up a talented Floridian as linebacker Ja’Qurius Smith of Lakeland pledged to the Orange on Tuesday. Smith became the fifth member of Syracuse’s 2018 recruiting class.
Two days after Smith’s announcement, another linebacker — Juan Wallace of Woodson High School in Washington, D.C. — became Syracuse’s sixth 2018 pledge.
The 6-3, 195-pound Smith is a consensus 3-star prospect. He ranks as the No. 43 outside linebacker in his class in 247Sports’ composite rankings. The 6-2, 215-pound Wallace is also a 3-star; he is the No. 44 inside linebacker prospect in 2018.
Smith adds aggressiveness and good instincts to Syracuse’s defensive class. He demonstrates a high motor and hard-hitting, while taking good pursuit angles.
Wallace, who projects as a middle linebacker, is solid in run support. He plays downhill and has a nose for the ball-carrier. Playing alongside some of the toughest public school competition Washington, D.C., has to offer will help prepare him for the challenges awaiting at Syracuse.
All three of Syracuse’s projected starting linebackers coming out of the spring — Jonathan Thomas, Zaire Franklin and Parris Bennett – are seniors. It will be wide-open competition in 2018 for playing time in Syracuse’s linebacker corps; Smith and Wallace will be two of numerous players in that conversation.
Smith is Syracuse’s first Florida commitment in the 2018 class, and he likely won’t be the last. The Orange signed 10 prospects from the Sunshine State in the 2016 and 2017 classes, establishing Florida as one of Dino Babers’ top recruiting territories. SU is hot on the trail of several additional 2018 Floridians as well.
The Orange is also tapping into the nation’s capital under Babers’ watch. In the 2017 class, Syracuse signed wide receiver Nykeim Johnson out of D.C.’s Friendship Collegiate Academy.