There was a feeling in the air heading into last Saturday‚Äôs 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôt take long for Syracuse to land one of the weekend‚Äôs 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‚Äôs early interest in him – SU was the first school to offer¬†him a scholarship.
‚ÄúOnce they expressed interest in me with the first offer, that meant a lot.‚Äù
More importantly though, he loves the idea of enrolling in Syracuse‚Äôs engineering¬†school.
‚ÄúI 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.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúFrom day one, I got a really good vibe from Coach Conley and the staff up there.‚Äù
While the other schools with offers to Trudo laid pressure on him,¬†Samuels said that the coaches at Syracuse had a different approach.
‚ÄúThey kind of sat back and let him go through the (recruiting) process.‚Äù
We forget, and it‚Äôs easy to, most recruits don‚Äôt show up to campus for an¬†official visit like some grand judgment day. It‚Äôs 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‚Äôs offer list, or who wins a¬†game on a given day.
Take SU freshman quarterback Johnny Miller‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúI 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.”‚Ä®
Maybe you‚Äôre 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.
‚ÄúMy 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.‚Äù
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.
‚ÄúIt 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.‚Äù
So it looks like Ameen-Moore‚Äôs not kidding. SU has a shot at him, and it looks¬†like the chances that he‚Äôll be taking handoffs from Ryan Nassib next year got¬†better last weekend.
Take note that the last quote didn‚Äôt read, ‚ÄúIt did creep into my head, but then Pitt¬†kicked the crap out of them so forget it.‚Äù
Doug Marrone and his staff seem to be doing a solid job of forging relationships¬†with recruits, relationships that even 45-14 losses won‚Äôt 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