FizzCast: Syracuse JuCo Commit Darius Kelly Chooses Marrone’s Soft Sell

The Orange add a playmaker to a secondary in need of them.

JuCo safety Darius Kelly has committed to Syracuse, and The Fizz broke news to his head coach.

“Your comment was the first I heard of Darius’ commitment to Syracuse.”

Nugent told The Fizz he immediately sent a text message to congratulate his standout at Pima Community College (AZ), the newest addition to SU’s 2013 commitment class. The 5’11” 190 lb. Kelly originally committed to Marshall this past Monday. He then took his official visit to Syracuse this past weekend during what may have been the most impressive collection of prep football talent ever on the Hill.

Once the Orange got back in touch with him this week, he decided SU was the better fit. Kelly says it was Donnie Henderson who reached out to him.

“Coach Donnie Henderson, he came out two weeks ago. It was a great visit. I like everything about Syracuse: the city, the town, the school, the academics, and the football program. I just fell in love with it. Coach Marrone came down yesterday. [He] sat down and [I] talked to him, and decided to commit.”

Both Greg Adkins and John Anselmo have received plenty of praise for this class, but this time it was defensive backs coach Henderson who helped SU land the 2-star Kelly. The All-Arizona CC Athletic Conference first teamer got a special in-home visit from Marrone. Henderson’s and Marrone’s approach in recruiting really enticed Kelly.

“Coach Marrone says, ‘It’s a window of opportunity.’ He knows where I’ve been. He is willing to take it. Coach Henderson and those guys, they didn’t pressure me to make any decisions. They said, ‘This is where I’ve been. This is where we are going. Either you can hop on, or not.’ It just stuck with me, like there was no pressure. ‘I can get you to the next level. There’s no pressure.’ It just stuck with me.”

Marrone’s recruiting approach continues to work. Instead of the hard sell, he’s all-business and understatement. “If you like it, welcome aboard, but if not, that’s okay. On to the next one.” Kelly’s sudden de-commitment from Marshall may also speak to the Orange’s dwindling secondary. With Shamarko Thomas finishing his senior season, Kelly saw an opportunity for immediate playing time.

“Definitely, definitely. Coaches let me know that we need some playmakers to come in. I believe that’s who I am. That helped me make my decision a little more.”

This is the first ’13 commit for the SU secondary, a position that needs help. In ’11, the safety had 3 interceptions (2 were returned for scores). He also had 3 forced fumbles in 9 games. This season he led the team with 55 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, three recoveries, and one pick.

“This past year my team really didn’t win a lot of games, but it’s not always about that. I still always lead my team. At that level it’s about opportunity. That’s one of the things I want to put on a team. I still had a pretty good season. Worked hard every game, and I feel like I had a pretty good season.”

SU’s shift to the ACC next season was another positive in choosing Syracuse. Kelly had his eyes on playing in the conference well before his commitment.

“Definitely. That’s one of the conferences I looked really forward to playing in actually before the season. I wanted to get an ACC offer and play at that type of level. This opportunity came around and I really couldn’t turn it down.”

The Orange is heading to its new digs with a thrilling, still-in-progress, end to the season.

“I just want to come in and help building it back up. Get Syracuse back to where it was back in the day, where it was a winning team, a national championship team. I want to be a part of that, that history of Syracuse.”

Kelly intends to study sports medicine and can’t wait to get up to Central New York to get started on the field and in the classroom:

“I’m looking forward to getting into the system. Looking forward to getting back into the school system, getting that Syracuse education. I learned about that, that’s huge up there. The academics at Syracuse are huge. That’s a top notch education school and the football of course, getting to learn the system.”

Darius becomes the third Orange commitment in just this one week, with defensive end Trevon Trejo and offensive lineman John Miller also deciding. We continue to wait on big names like Ebenezer Ogundeko and Laray Smith. But Marrone is taking advantage of his team’s time off awaiting the Pinstripe Bowl. SU continues to add pieces. The fruits of the ’12 season continue to be picked.

Posted: Brendan Glasheen

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