Scott Shafer just closed his first deal. Syracuse lands its first verbal commitment of the new era, with St. Louis wideout Corey Winfield. What does he bring? Size, he’s listed at 6’2″, 185 (although many places have him at 6’1″). Speed, he’s been clocked at 4.47 in the 40. Smarts, he carries a 3.5 GPA. Winfield had committed to Northern Illinois in July, but Shafer made an in-home visit just days ago and made the switch happen.
On the surface, you might think SU should always beat a team from the MAC. But after the magical Orange Bowl season the Huskies had, nabbing an NIU commit isn’t a lock. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named him one of the best wide receivers in the state, and a top 20 recruit in St. Louis. Keep in mind, there’s some excellent talent that comes out of the Show Me (Blaine Gabbart, Jeremy Maclin, Dorial Green-Beckham).
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Scout.com rates Winfield as a two-star recruit, while Rivals gave him three. With George McDonald taking over the offense, hopefully it draws a higher level of skill position players. The backfield is excellent and deep already, but play-makers on the outside are lacking. Winfield also had offers from Purdue, Ball State, Western Kentucky, Wyoming, Arkansas State and Miami-Ohio. He also drew interest early on from Wisconsin.
Last year the Post-Dispatch covered his performance at the Elite Football Combine at Rams Park:
“Winfield was among the top performers in several categories, including the 40-yard dash and L-cone drill (6.75). He turned in the combine’s best mark in the vertical leap (39½) as well as the broad jump (10-4).
Winfield already had an impressive highlight film on YouTube that had garnered some attention. As a result of putting that together with his performance at the combine, he has seen increased attention from college coaches throughout the Midwest – including his first offer.”
While there’s ample concern about how the new staff will hold on to the strong pipelines the previous staff built in New York City, here’s an area where Shafer’s contacts helped. He was the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois from 1996 to 2003, and recruited the surrounding states. St. Louis is about a four-hour drive from the NIU campus.
Winfield becomes the 15th commit for SU’s Class of 2013 with just two weeks to go until National Signing Day. He took an official visit to the Hill this past weekend, but would not commit until his family met with Shafer. The new head coach flew there on Tuesday, and locked it up.
It’s safe to say Winfield would not have been anywhere near the Orange had Doug Marrone stayed. While SU may lose players like Laray Smith and Gus Edwards, the good news is Shafer is paying his own dividends at a critical time.