Academics played role in two recent recruiting misses for Syracuse football

Syracuse football has seen a pair of 2021 three-star prospects opt for other programs.

This week, Syracuse football 2021 targets Riley Leonard and Josh Moore elected to take their skills and talents to teams other than the Orange.

It happens. Recruiting is fickle, and more often than not, the ‘Cuse will lose out to other squads even when prospects place Syracuse among their core group of finalists under consideration.

Leonard, a 6-foot-4, dual-threat quarterback who is rated as three stars by Rivals.com, picked fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Duke. The Orange had made Leonard, a two-sport star at Fairhope High School in Fairhope, Ala., who also excels in basketball, its No. 1 quarterback target in this class.

He held scholarship offers from additional crews including Nebraska, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane and Vanderbilt. In revealing his decision, Leonard told TheDevilsDen.com, “Duke was the school that for the rest of my life I could walk around with pride knowing I went there.”

Prior to his commitment to the Blue Devils, Leonard also said in this article, “No. 1 is an education and then No. 2, I’m not worried about facilities or how nice a school is. I’m worried about relationships with coaches, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how nice a place is. If you’re going to play for a coach every day that you really love, it makes all the difference.”

Academic prowess factored into the equation for Riley Leonard and Josh Moore.

The 6-foot-2 Moore, who says on his Twitter page that he has a 4.15 grade-point average, recently announced a half-dozen finalists of the ‘Cuse, Northwestern, Boston College, Notre Dame, Duke and Stanford.

However, the three-star safety, who attends the Marist School in Atlanta, told Rivals.com on Tuesday when he selected Stanford that it ultimately came down to a final three of Notre Dame, Northwestern and the Cardinal.

Moore said of his collegiate destination, “They have one of the top business programs in the country, and I want to major in business, so that stood out a lot. You cannot replicate Stanford. It is one of the nicest campuses in the country, what they offer right there around the school after football is something I thought hard about too, and Stanford is where I want to be.”

He added, “I cannot think of one reason not to go to Stanford.”

It certainly stings for Syracuse to swing and miss on Moore and Leonard. The former is a top-50 safety across the country whose Marist School teammate, 2021 defensive end/linebacker Derek McDonald, recently pledged his services to the ‘Cuse, while the latter is one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in this class.

Yet clearly both Moore and Leonard put a big-time emphasis on their academics, which is admirable. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Orange alum, and Syracuse University is a fine academic institution.

But the ‘Cuse is not Duke, and it’s not Stanford. Therefore, when Syracuse football loses out because of the academics found with the Blue Devils and the Cardinal, chalk it up as stuff happens, move on, and let’s wish these fine young men nothing but good health and much success.

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