New OC George McDonald and Tim Lester have done incredible work already in just two weeks.
Syracuse fans should be rapidly becoming impressed with Scott Shafer’s new collection of coaches. Since SU finished filling most of the vacancies Doug Marrone left behind, this new group has assuaged all fears about the 2013 recruiting class. In the last week, the Orange has landed two WRs, Corey Cooper and Corey Winfield, a QB in Mitch Kimble, monster OL Alexander Hayes, and TE Aaron Batten. What a 180 degree turnaround.
It wasn’t long ago that Marrone’s departure created terrifying uncertainty for SU. Long-committed recruits voiced their concern on Twitter. Zach Allen. supposedly Syracuse’s savior at quarterback, abruptly decommitted on January 12th. Augustus Edwards and Laray Smith turned cold on the program. Orange Nation couldn’t help but feel like the core of the class was on its way to destruction.
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Now it feels extremely ironic that Allen left because of the unknown at offensive coordinator. At the time, it looked slow on Shafer’s part to take more than a week to fill the position. But in the end, Shafer’s quest to find the right Offensive Coordinator, no matter how long it took, may prove to be the best decision he’ll make as head coach.
Who would you rather have: Allen or “The Mailman” George McDonald? Easy choice. Allen is one recruit. McDonald has entered a brand new environment and helped the program land a number of quality recruits in just days.
That includes Allen’s replacement, Kimble. The Orange snagged Kimble away from a prior commitment in NIU, and N.C. State. A dual-threat QB with a similar style to Allen, SU’s new quarterback commit was actually given better rating by ESPN than the school’s former commit.
The new staff has been terrific. McDonald convinced Batten to decommit from Kent State (he holds several BCS offers as well) and play at Syracuse. The Orange will have five usable tight ends not including Batten on next season’s roster, yet the last minute sales pitch to tight end still worked. McDonald’s success has been absolutely mind-boggling. The trust and relationships he has built across the country has players who would never consider SU taking long looks at the Orange. Tim Lester was also able to retain QB Austin Wilson.
Shafer’s first six commitments hail from the following locations: St. Louis, Rochester, close to Atlanta, Raliegh, Miami, and Jerseyville, Illinois. In just a few weeks, the new coaching staff has already flipped the theme of the previous regime on its ear. SU’s old staff sifted through the less-talented pool of New York recruits in order to piece together a class. The new one is taking it national.
These coaches all have extensive networks built up in the Midwest and South. They’re going after those regions, which are far more fertile for recruiting than the northeast.
Credit still goes to Marrone and company for grinding hard to get to SU to a position where it’s an easier sell. But Shafer’s new staff, led by Coach McDonald, is sure making it look easier to recruit here than it’s looked in a long time.
Posted: Andrew Kanell