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General Lea: Underrated LB Coach Reels in Syracuse Commit Parris Bennett

When you think of recent recruiting specialists amongst the Syracuse football staff, names such as John Anselmo, Tyrone Wheatley and George McDonald come to mind. But SU linebackers coach Clark Lea is making a strong case to join that class of great ones. Lea has been an assistant at UCLA and Bowling Green, and his influence and constant conversation has ignited the Orange recruiting engine as of late. Outside linebacker Parris Bennett from Detroit committed to Syracuse on Monday after visiting over the weekend and tells The Fizz Lea was a big factor in his decision:

“My relationship with Coach Lea has been long and great. We’ve been in touch with each other since last June, just checking in with each other. He was great at the camps too.”

Obviously Lea sees a lot in Bennett having spoken with him for a whole year prior to his commitment. Give Lea credit also for landing Philly ILB Zaire Franklin and an Illinois defensive general in Colton Moskal in the recent weeks. For young student athletes, sometimes ties with low-profile coaches such as Lea are invaluable to a program. Lea has significantly factored into three decisions of SU’s current six-man 2014 class. That’s huge, especially this early into the summer swing.

As for Bennett, he pledged Syracuse over Pittsburgh. Orange fans should get used to this for the next few years. SU and Pitt will be going at it for many recruits, as both programs can both offer the ACC and the opportunity to face top-tier competition. Think back to the Big East, Syracuse lost out on DE Justin Moody and lost contact with offensive lineman Alex Officer. But things are looking up now thanks to Bennett’s decision. He entertained a Panther offer a few weeks ago, but remained satisfied with Syracuse. There’s also a very good possibility West Haven, Connecticut’s Ervin Philips comes on the Hill. SU was the first to offer him. Bennett also fielded offers from Central and Western Michigan, as well as Bowling Green and Toledo.

Bennett told The Fizz it was a great feeling to finally announce his verbal. He’s looking forward to competing with a strong, talented linebacking corps up at Syracuse. He found the facilities and competition as eye-popping difference makers. Always good to hear Manley Fieldhouse and its upgrades continue to impress visitors. Bennett’s been in close contact with Zaire Franklin, as Ziggy told The Fizz yesterday he was around for a bit during Bennett’s trip to SU this past weekend.

The three-star OLB handles a captain role next season with Detroit Jesuit.  When asked about his personal goals for his senior stint, Bennett boldly kept it simple:

“Just to come out, be a leader, and rack up victories. Winning is what drives me.”

Typically you hear a lot about conditioning or on-field quality for players looking to make specific improvements, but Bennett has his head focused on producing wins in the Motor City. Second commit this week for the Orange, with Bennett falling right behind “the next Shamarko” in defensive back Rodney Williams. The names keep filing in, and from top to bottom, whether its Shafer, McDonald, or Coach Lea, the SU coaching staff continues to do the nitty-gritty on the recruiting front prior to heat of summer camp.

Posted: Brendan Glasheen

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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