While the Coach P days were certainly pock-marked with disastrous moments, questionable coaching decisions and mediocre results – recruiting for the Orange was outstanding.
No, Syracuse didn’t win any Top-10 classes via the so-called experts. But year after year, the Orange uncovered its type of prep players, developed that talent and sent them to the NFL.
The final days of the Pasquoloni Era were not the prettiest, but still churned out players who would have established careers at the highest level like Will Allen, Keith Bullock, Dee Brown, James Mungro, Donovan Darius, David Tyree and others.
Groobers mistakes are well-documented (and too many to count on 13,000 sets of hands – have you seen the Michigan defense recently? Egads.) but one recruiting decision which was always a head-scratcher was the decision to ignore South Florida.
The Sunshine State produces more D-1 talent than any other region in the country. All of the SEC figured that out. The ACC and Big 10 have jumped into the fray. And now, Rutgers (led by ex-Miami coach Greg Schiano), UConn, Pitt and West Virginia have all had recruiting successes down there (Noel Devine, anyone?).
Coach P’s troops always combed Florida and built relationships, which the Groobers regime allowed to erode. Finally, the Orange may have started making inroads again.
Marrone’s Marauders have inked Brice Hawkes, a 6-3, 205-pounder, who has played everything from defensive end and outside linebacker to receiver.
The Fizz nabbed the lowdown from South Florida recruiting legend Larry Bluestein, who has been covering the prep fields for nearly forty years.
“Went to watch him last night and the Orange got a steal. The kid could be one of the best in this class. He has grown 3 inches in less than a year and could get bigger.”
His head coach Roger Harriot says he’s only scratched the surface.
“He has been one of our most productive players this year. Colleges such as LSU, Buffalo, Colorado State and Tulane have come through, but never offered. Syracuse just loves what he is now and what he will become in the future.”
Beating out Buffalo, Colorado State and Tulane doesn’t quite get the blood flowing. But a signing like Hawkes may suggest something bigger: The Orange once again involved in the absurdly deep South Florida talent pool.