Over the last few seasons, Syracuse has brought in plenty of JuCo standouts the best programs in the country. Some of them are going to see significant time on the field this year for Scott Shafer. LA Harbor’s John Miller is already making a case as a starter on the offensive line, and LB’s Luke Arciniega (Sierra CC) and Josh Kirkland (Butler College) will be rotating in and out of Chuck Bullough’s nasty linebacking crew. Not to mention CB Darius Kelly from Pima College who might turn some heads in the secondary.
But don’t forget about big DT Wayne Williams and where he came from. The Brooklyn native played his high school football at Lincoln HS, and then went to ASA Junior College right in the heart of the BK. ASA is quickly becoming a national powerhouse right in Syracuse’s backyard.
Doug Marrone made it a priority to establish a pipeline in New York City and he did a solid job. But the next mission for Shafer and company is to create that specific connection with the ASA Avengers, who year in and year out are quietly sending players to some of the nation’s best schools. Alabama Head Coach and 3-time National Champion Nick Saban frequently roams the halls at ASA and Coach Dennis Orlando’s offices. This season, Orlando watched his 6’6” 315 lb. offensive lineman Leon Brown sign with the Crimson Tide. How does a coach in Tuscaloosa find himself in Brooklyn? When Saban was an assistant at SU he recruited New York City.
The Fizz talked with the fifth year coach about how his team has built up a powerhouse reputation.
“The attention turned to where your kids are ending up after they leave the program. Our push was certainly to make sure these kids were getting opportunities when they left here, that were not only great for them but would be attractive for guys looking for a junior college.”
In 2009, the first year of ASA’s football program, Orlando had one player sign with a BCS school, Indiana. The next year, 12-14 prospects signed with Division 1 programs. Now, more and more players are going to BCS schools in just the fifth year of the team’s existence. The college has become a viable option for players who need just a little more time to cultivate their talents or to pull up grades before signing with D-1 teams.
“We do a good job of recognizing and pinpointing talent that may need a little bit of polishing before they become a big time recruit. We do a good job of recruiting the hell out of them, and then when they get here, it starts with the academic part.”
And this school is right in SU’s backyard. The new Orange staff has focused primarily on expanding its recruiting boundaries to the Midwest and Florida over the last six months, but Shafer and company cannot forget about the JuCo that has Saban interested every season. Orlando does a terrific job of recruiting talent from Florida. In fact, there were only 8 players from New York on the roster in 2012.
Last season, Orlando’s squad went 9-0 in the regular season before playing Snow College in the inaugural Carrier Dome Bowl. Not bad to have some of these kids intrigued by the idea of playing every week in the Dome. Not to mention, former Syracuse LB turned RB Mario Tull played this past season at ASA.
The school is a perennial powerhouse, and sits in an area that SU cannot forget about. With the amount of talent that Orlando is churning out of ASA, Syracuse must return to its New York City roots to reel in experienced two-year players.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald