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Why Did Dontez Ford Leave Syracuse & How Will Marrone Fix Safety Depth?

Rumors had swirled late last week that Syracuse freshman safety Dontez Ford would transfer, and the school has made it official. The Fizz tried to contact him on the decision, but he’s not speaking publicly right now. He tweeted:

“Not answering any questions about transferring, especially over twitter. If you got my number, text me, maybe I’ll respond. *shrugs*”

The Fizz did indeed reach out via text, but he did not respond. Sounds like he might be getting some heat from Orange Nation. He tweeted:

“Someone said they thought I was a good kid… So I’m not a good kid because I didn’t want to go to your school?”

This tweet wasn’t specifically addressed at anyone, nor was it part of a Twitter conversation. It’s probably just a response to a disappointed fan, and not targeted at the coaching staff. Doug Marrone’s crew has a very strong reputation, so that’s highly doubtful anyway. Scout.com’s Pittsburgh affiliate told CuseNation.com’s Mike McAllister that people inside the Pitt program were surprised at Ford’s intended transfer.

This would seem to suggest that Ford doesn’t have anything decided on where he will transfer. Many believe though, that he’s looking to play closer to home in western Pennsylvania. If he had been talking to Pitt coaches while still on the roster at Syracuse, that would be considered tampering.

Ford’s high school coach told us last summer the Orange found a gem. Disappointing it didn’t work out for him at SU.

“He is a hard worker and very driven. He doesn’t need to be motivated to work. Dontez will excel at the next level.”

Ford came to SU as a terrific all-around athlete, a basketball and track standout, plus a two-way player at Sto-Rox High School. On Signing Day, Ford told The Fizz he built a unique relationship with Dan Conley. But the assistant coach was fired last off-season.

Just by looking at what Dontez has posted publicly, it seems just another case of an 18-year-old missing his hometown. Certainly not rare for young college students. He retweeted a picture of him and his girlfriend yesterday with the title “Finally home.” He’s made a number of suggestions on Twitter that he couldn’t wait to be back in PA at the end of the semester. He didn’t seem to have a chance to play locally. He chose Syracuse over Akron, Temple and Vanderbilt. 

The Fizz met with Ford on his home turf last March while covering the NCAA Tournament. He was really looking forward to his time at Syracuse. He’s a different kind of guy from your typical athlete. He doesn’t watch TV. He writes poetry. He’s a thinker. He was looking forward to his engineering classes as much as football.

The move leaves SU thin at the safety position. Shamarko Thomas will graduate, Shu Mungwa left last off-season to pursue a music career, and freshman Devante McFarlane was moved from safety to tailback. That might have been the reason the Orange pressed hard for JuCo Darius Kelly of Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. He can step in and help immediately. 

With all the talent at running back, it would seem likely McFarlane moves back to defense. Jerome Smith, Steve Rene and Prince Tyson-Gulley have another year left. Adonis Ameen-Moore will be a junior. Ashton Broyld is officially listed as a running back. George Morris signed in February, and Gus Edwards will be entering his freshman season next fall. Plus, speed demon Laray Smith could be leaning Orange.

Well wishes to Ford in his future endeavors. Maybe the Orange will see him in the ACC down the road. He’s back home now.

Posted: Craig Hoffman

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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