It’s not surprising new Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer immediately started calling the Class of 2013 quarterbacks over the weekend. Once Zach Allen broke the news he flipped from Syracuse to TCU, Shafer began a search party for another quarterback the Orange could target for the incoming class.
Fort Lauderdale, FL native John O’Korn of St. Thomas Aquinas High was offered from Syracuse today. This marks the first official scholarship offer in the Scott Shafer era. With Allen now likely staying in Texas and some strong uncertainty from commit Austin Wilson, Shafer had to pull the trigger on another quarterback. Shafer contacted O’Korn first thing this week. O’Korn tells The Fizz he’s blessed to receive yet another opportunity.
“He saw my film and wanted to offer me right away. I’m still committed to Houston but I’ll look into it and still do my research and then maybe get on a visit if it’s something I want to take the next step in and check out.”
That’s the bad news. O’Korn is already a Cougar commit. He gave his verbal in June. O’Korn has a field of offers from North Carolina, UCF, USF, Wisconsin, Mississippi State, and Louisville. The three-star, 6’3” 210 lbs. QB is ranked the 31st best pro-style quarterback in his class. At St. Thomas Aquinas, O’Korn got it done both through the air and on the ground. He finished with 22 TDs to 4 INTs on 2,552 passing yards (completing 56% of his passes). He also rushed for 15 touchdowns and 576 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry. O’Korn is arguably one the best quarterbacks available in state of Florida, a tremendous recruiting ground.
Why did Shafer target O’Korn? There’s a Syracuse connection. O’Korn’s head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas is Rocco Casullo, the son of former Syracuse assistant Bob Casullo. O’Korn tells us this is what sparked the interest. Bob coached the Orange from 1985-’94, then rejoined the staff in ’09 as tight ends coach, special teams coordinator, and assistant head coach. Despite his Houston commitment, SU still decided to offer O’Korn and ask to visit the Hill. O’Korn tells The Fizz he’s thrilled for another offer coming his way and he’s well aware of how great an education Syracuse brings to the table:
“I think it’s a blessing to get another opportunity to play at a great university, especially at Syracuse. Get a great degree. The academics there are second to very few. It’s definitely something I’ll have to consider.”
His commitment lies with Houston but doesn’t mind getting a bunch of late attention with Signing Day three weeks away.
“A lot of people will look at it stressed out. I’ve been handling it well, looking at all the opportunities as a blessing. I’m just trying to take it day by day on the search. I’m trying to get to know all the coaches and gain a relationship there and take visits.”
The Fizz asked O’Korn if he knew Zach Allen, the player who opened up this door for him.
“I’ve heard the name. I know the name just from talking with Coach Shafer. He pretty much told me that was the reason why he said that. They had to get a guy in that fits the system. With Signing Day only a few weeks away, they knew they wanted to offer me. The school has great facilities, I want to get to know Coach Shafer better, and see who they bring in as offensive coordinator. I’ll definitely know then if I’d want to visit.”
O’Korn’s pro-style qualities obviously attracted the program. Especially with its powerful running game, the Orange remains hopeful the offense can keep clicking. The hole at OC though, is complicating matters for everyone involved. Syracuse better get a move on filling that void if its wants a chance at O’Korn. He tells The Fizz it’s the determining factor whether he visits CNY or not:
“Obviously I have to have a good relationship with the OC. Syracuse wasn’t really recruiting me until I guess today. I wasn’t being recruited by a different offensive coordinator from Syracuse. Whoever they bring in I’ll have to try to get to know him and if I get along with him I’ll try and make a visit out there.”
JO’K says Shafer envisions him in an Orange uniform and the quarterback watched SU this season.
“We were just getting to know each other. He sees me as a guy that can throw the ball but can also tuck it and run when I need to to get out of trouble. Maybe run some design runs here and there just to pick up yardage and keep the defense guessing, so it’s something I’m definitely excited about. I watched Syracuse throughout the year with Ryan Nassib being an exciting player.”
Nassib’s performance down the stretch not only grabbed the attention of college football fans, but SU recruits. O’Korn worked his way to the starting job at Aquinas before his senior year, so he’s willing to compete for playing time. O’Korn says he doesn’t perceive Syracuse any differently than Houston in terms of the timing of the offers. He even said SU could have an edge:
“I don’t look at differently depending on when it was. It’s not going to change. I think actually, now that it’s later and it’s today, it helps Syracuse chances because if they had been recruiting me before and the whole coaching staff left… that would complicate things. I know I’m not going to have to deal with a new coaching staff coming in during my recruiting with Syracuse.”
The Fizz put O’Korn on the spot. If National Signing Day was tomorrow, what’s it going to be John?
“It’s Houston. I have three weeks and I’ve been given some great opportunities. I’ve committed to Houston for a lot of reasons and those reasons still stand today. I only go through this process once so I want to make the best decision.”
O’Korn is the start of a long wish-list the SU coaching staff will go through in the next few weeks. Rapid communication is vital for Shafer and company in order to make a splash on Signing Day at QB. Austin Wilson is the only commit for next year under center, and we’ll find out in a matter of weeks whether that number increases or decreases. Cross your fingers.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen