Last year at this time 4-star North Carolina running back Robert Washington was committed to play football at SU. He pledged in late April of 2015 after initially choosing Florida.
On that day this site called the commitment a “complete game changer for SU football.”
The Post Standard wrote, “It’s the biggest recruiting coup for the program in recent memory.”
With Washington in the fold, there were discussions about brining back number 44. The commitment was a major victory.
It would only last a few months though because in August of 2015 the running back decommitted. Later in November, Syracuse fired Scott Shafer, the man who tried so hard to land Washington.
Now in May of 2016, SU has a different recruiting philosophy under Dino Babers. A week ago Syracuse’s new head coach spoke about the Orange’s sacred number 44 to a group of fans in Buffalo.
“I’m not sure there’s a guy we’re recruiting worthy enough to even put that damn jersey on, honestly,” Babers told the Post Standard.
“I know what that means to me. I know what it means to the people in this group. And if we have a guy that damn egotistical that he doesn’t want to come to Syracuse University because he doesn’t have that jersey on, piss on him.”
That’s a far cry from what transpired with Washington under Shafer.
While the 4-star recruit and 44 frenzy made fans excited and hopeful, a sense of uncertainty always loomed last summer. Will a kid who’s linked with Alabama and Michigan really ever come to Syracuse? Should SU hand over number 44 to an unproven recruit?
Now we know the answer to both of those questions is a pretty firm no.
Shafer dreamed big with promises of an eight win season and maybe bringing back 44 if the fit was right. In the end, he came up short.
The only guarantee so far from Babers is that Syracuse will run a fast-paced offense this fall.
Shafer recruited Washington and stirred up the 44 controversy in an effort to make SU relevant again. Babers is taking a different route.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to wins, which is something Shafer struggled with. Fans won’t care how Babers and company recruit or handle 44 if it means consistent bowl games for the Orange.
So far, the two coaches couldn’t be anymore dissimilar. Only time will tell if an off the field difference, results in better on field results.
Syracuse fans, do you wish Babers was really pushing for more 4-star talent like Shafer did with Washington? Comment below.
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Posted: Connor Morrissette