There was a feeling in the air heading into last Saturday’s 45-14 embarrassment-of-a-game versus Pitt. It was a vibe that in recent years has been reserved for the winter season and the boys who play on the court, rather than on turf.
Syracuse football all of a sudden had relevance, and there was a sense of urgency from the team and the fan base to maintain that relevance by putting forth a good effort against the Panthers.
And then they played the game. And it wasn’t pretty. A reality check of sorts, about where the program is, and how much it still needs to improve.
Perhaps the biggest reason why it felt like such a punch in the gut was that five out-of-state recruits were sitting in the stands (along with another four recruits from Doug Marrone’s old stomping grounds of Nassau Community College), watching more than half the Orange faithful file out of the Carrier Dome before the 4th-quarter even began.
It didn’t take long for Syracuse to land one of the weekend’s visitors. Rob Trudo and his family pulled their car over to the side of the road on their way home from CNY, and the 6-5, 252 lbs offensive lineman called SU to verbally commit.
The Fizz talked to Trudo about his decision to commit. He said he appreciated Syracuse’s early interest in him – SU was the first school to offer him a scholarship.
“Once they expressed interest in me with the first offer, that meant a lot.”
More importantly though, he loves the idea of enrolling in Syracuse’s engineering school.
“I got to talk to the Assistant Dean of the engineering college. I love math and everything, so I got excited about everything she showed me.”
Both Trudo and his coach emphasized how important academics are to him, but at the end of the day, the reason Trudo will wear Orange next year is the comfort level both the player and his high school coach have with the Syracuse coaching staff.
Coach Samuels complemented the Syracuse staff several times, especially linebackers coach Dan Conley.
“From day one, I got a really good vibe from Coach Conley and the staff up there.”
While the other schools with offers to Trudo laid pressure on him, Samuels said that the coaches at Syracuse had a different approach.
“They kind of sat back and let him go through the (recruiting) process.”
We forget, and it’s easy to, most recruits don’t show up to campus for an official visit like some grand judgment day. It’s much more complicated than that. Recruits build relationships with programs over time, and those relationships more often than not decide who goes to school where, as opposed to simply the biggest powerhouse on a player’s offer list, or who wins a game on a given day.
Take SU freshman quarterback Johnny Miller’s high school teammate, Adonis Ameen-Moore. The three-star running back visited for the Pitt game, and The Fizz wondered whether he may have been scared away. But unless Ameen-Moore is just being coy, it looks like just the opposite happened.
“I had good thoughts going into the trip because of the staff, but now it has only furthered those thoughts. I like them a lot more now I like them a lot more than I already did.”
Maybe you’re thinking Ameen-Moore is full of it. After all, what he said seems like a pretty generic comment. For all we know, he hated the visit, and the loss soured him on the prospect of playing football at Syracuse. But he continues to praise the coaches.
“My favorite part was just being with the team really and being able to talk with the coaches. It was nice to talk with Coach Marrone face to face and Coach Hackett face to face.”
Ok, that sounds nice. Again though, a fairly normal thing for a player to say following a campus visit. Then, Ameen-Moore was asked if he thought about committing to the SU during the visit.
“It did creep into my head because I was having such a good time. Syracuse is one of my top choices so I mean of course it is going to creep into my head. I am still going to see some other colleges.”
So it looks like Ameen-Moore’s not kidding. SU has a shot at him, and it looks like the chances that he’ll be taking handoffs from Ryan Nassib next year got better last weekend.
Take note that the last quote didn’t read, “It did creep into my head, but then Pitt kicked the crap out of them so forget it.”
Doug Marrone and his staff seem to be doing a solid job of forging relationships with recruits, relationships that even 45-14 losses won’t damage.
Time will tell, but the worst weekend of the season for this edition of the SU football team may have been the best weekend of the year for the future of the program.
Posted: Andrew Kanell