When Syracuse and Rutgers meet on the football field, it’s the culmination of the battles the two schools wage every day on the New York and New Jersey recruiting grounds. The Fizz and fans have been stressing that Doug Marrone needs to finally reel in those big fish from the Empire State and dominate recruiting inside New York.
For the ’12 recruiting class, SU has brought in some talent from New York but has swung and missed on the biggest in-state recruits. Jarron Jones was just an hour down the road, but chose Irish green. Brooklyn’s Ishaq Williams also opted for Notre Dame. Chad Kelly of Buffalo is headed down to Clemson. New Jersey has produced top talent for years, but these days the Orange can’t capitalize on it. SU does not have a single commitment from the Garden State. Rutgers is the mirror image of the ‘Cuse. The Scarlet Knights mine their own state well, but haven’t stolen away any elite New York players from SU.
Dominating recruiting near your home turf is a necessity to become a consistent winning program. The Dougie has said reestablishing the Jersey footprint Syracuse once had before the rise of Rutgers is crucial to take the next step as a program. Greg Schiano built up RU, and Groobers firebombed the Jersey roots SU once had there.
“I think we have to do a better job of recruiting in New Jersey. I think we haven’t done a very good job in years past since Coach Pasqualoni and Coach DeLeone left because they had such a good foundation and good relationships in New Jersey. We’ve been fighting to get back that foundation. We have three coaches now in the state of New Jersey and we all go in there and we all have parts of it.”
Unfortunately, Marrone’s staff continues to come up empty there. The SU coaches are being forced to get creative in farming for talent – digging into Florida more and turning over every rock in the five boroughs. But SU has also extended its reach down the eastern seaboard, which may make transitioning to recruiting against ACC opponents easier.
Look at the ’11 class and the potential ’12 commits. Syracuse actually has as many southern recruits from ACC country as it does New York/New Jersey recruits. It’s either a stroke of luck or The Dougie saw this realignment before we did. The Fizz would love to see SU become more entrenched in the big northern recruiting states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But picking up commitments from states like Florida and Georgia, where the average talent level of a player surpasses that of a northern athlete, is productive.
This is why Marrone has put an emphasis the last three seasons on winning the Rutgers game. He knows being able to beat Schiano to a handful of Jersey kids is key. The Scarlet Knights have understandably focused so much attention on New Jersey, SU has had to also target good, but not elite, players from the Southern states. But Marrone would like to do win more Garden State battles in the future. The question is can Crazy Eyes Schiano turn upper echelon Dirty Jerz talent into winners? Despite well-regarded recruiting classes, RU was picked to finish last in the Big East. For now, Syracuse will gladly take the 2-3 star recruits from elsewhere and wins on the football field.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert