Syracuse has branded itself as New York’s College Team. Daryl Gross has marketed it, but Doug Marrone has embodied it. He’s used it to dominate the recruiting grounds in NYC, and most importantly Brooklyn. The Fizz has highlighted Marrone’s success in this regard over the last few years. In 2010, HCDM’s first full recruiting class, he reeled in just one recruit from New York that was ranked in the state’s top 10, John Kinder. Over the next two years he brought in five. And on the eve of Ebenezer Ogundeko’s decision day, The Dougie has a chance to bring in three of the state’s top eight recruits in the Class of 2013, all of whom hail from NYC.
Year after year more recruits from the Big Apple show up on New York State’s top ranked prospect lists. The talent level in the five boroughs is increasing, and SU is tapping into that. One person tracking this trend is a familiar face to the Fizz Fam, Mr. Shaun Williams - Ishaq’s dad.
Williams may seem like an ordinary Syracuse alum. He’s a teacher in the New York City Public School system, and also teaches GED classes at York College. But he is also a mentor to dozens of PSAL football recruits who are looking for guidance during their recruiting processes. On player in particular is Ebenezer. The Fizz caught up with Williams during SU’s 38-14 victory in the Pinstripe Bowl about his relationship with the state’s top ranked recruit. Ogundeko reached out to Williams for help, knowing that his son Ishaq (who was also the top ranked NY prospect in 2011) dealt with the months of the national scrutiny before deciding on Notre Dame.
“I said to [Ebenezer], let’s just have a weekly breakfast date and we’ll sit and we’ll talk about what your thoughts are for the previous week, what your calendar is looking like, and I’ll make sure you’re looking at the situation the right way.”
The city’s recruits know that Williams is willing to help since he’s familiar with the process and aided Ishaq two years ago. In fact, Shaun was the one who drove players like Ebenezer and other SU recruits to the Pinstripe Bowl and up to Syracuse for unofficial visits. On Saturday, he, Ebo, SU commits Wayne Williams, Augustus Edwards and others all sat in the same section at Yankee Stadium. It really is a NYC brotherhood and Williams tells The Fizz he will help any recruit who reached out to him. It’s not only a great service to have Shaun available to players looking for guidance, but it’s tremendous to have him representing Syracuse as an institution. He cares about those who come after him, and he’s a terrific torch-bearer for the university.
Williams wants what’s best for these young teenagers. Lucky for Syracuse, Williams says he roots for the state’s top players to go to SU.
“Absolutely. To think that Syracuse now is second rate, that’s a misnomer. Syracuse is moving to the ACC, they had a first round draft pick in Chandler Jones last year, they’re constantly putting guys into the [NFL], Syracuse is as good as any place, anywhere in the country.”
Whether Ogundeko chooses SU remains to be seen. But it’s already a victory for the Orange to have made Ebo’s final list of two schools with Clemson.
But Williams stressed that if Syracuse gets theses top recruits from NYC (like Wayne Morgan last year), Marrone and the coaches must make them feel at home.
“When you go to some place like Syracuse from Brooklyn they have to take care of you. Syracuse’s bread and butter is right here in Brooklyn. If they don’t take care of [the NYC recruits] they have egg on its face.”
Williams isn’t saying these kids should be pampered compared to other recruits, but any problems are within “shouting distance” from home. This theory has worked in SU’s favor over the last couple seasons. Every recruit The Fizz has spoken to from Brooklyn or Staten Island says there’s a current Orange player in his ear telling selling him on the program.
Williams used Morgan as an example. One of the top five prospects in the state last year got immediate playing on special teams this season. Morgan also occasionally made his way onto the field with the secondary. This brotherhood, Williams alluded to, blazes a trail for all NYC recruits.
“It behooves us to remind the young men, that they’re not just getting recruited for themselves. They’re going to make sure, that if they carry themselves the right way and conduct themselves the right way, the guys behind them are going to be recruited.”
It’s simple. You perform on the field, and more coaches from national programs will be knocking on the doors in the Big Apple. It’s the reason New York City alone has produced a four or five-star players three of the last four seasons. The Ishaq’s and the Ebenezer’s become the role models for an entire city not known for football prominence. And fortunately for SU, these players are right in its backyard.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald