As the recruitment of Ishaq Williams comes to a close, Syracuse hopes that history can play a role in convincing the state’s top defensive recruit to wear Orange. So much of SU football lore revolves around what once was, and not what currently exists. The legend of 44, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little, etc.
Ishaq has a predecessor as a big name prospect choosing between these legendary schools. Floyd Little had to decide between Syracuse and Notre Dame too, and we all know how that turned out.
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Coach Ben Schwartzwalder once took SU great Ernie Davis to meet Little at his house in New Haven, CT after returning from another recruiting trip:
“We all knew Davis was the Heisman Trophy winner,” Little said. “He had just signed with the Cleveland Browns and had signed with Pepsi-Cola for $100,000 – which was huge money in those days and huge money today.
“This guy was stacked up better than dirty clothes at the door. He wore a camel-haired coat. He was 6-foot-2, 215, 220 pounds, a pocketful of money. He’s standing at the door with this grin, a good-looking guy with a great, great physique.
“He gave me a big handshake and said, ‘This is Floyd Little. It’s so nice to meet you. Now I know the man that everybody’s talking about.’ “
“He said, ‘Floyd, I know you’re going to get a lot of opportunities. Let me tell you one thing. What’s significant about Syracuse is, there’s not a lot of (blacks) up there. But they treat you very special. They treat you with respect.
“The legacy, the history of passing the torch from Jim Brown to Ernie Davis, Ernie had to find that somebody to pass it to.”’
The situation has changed as far as race is concerned, but not with academics. That still remains a top priority for Marrone, his coaching staff, and Director of Player Development Bob Brotzki (who played at Syracuse on the same offensive line as Marrone).
The legend of 44 may be on hold in the rafters of the Dome, but that doesn’t mean a proverbial torch can’t be passed. Who was the last great defensive end to play at Syracuse? The name that should come to mind is the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Dwight Freeney.
He may have only started for two years for the Orange, but the legacy of the players that came before him was of prime importance.
“When I was going into school that was huge. They have a great history and that was big for me,” Freeney said.
The Colts’ All-Pro got an offer from Penn State, but the Lions wanted him to play linebacker. He got an offer from Notre Dame, but his GPA wasn’t high enough.
When he got an offer from Syracuse and felt like the school wanted him, that’s how he knew it was right for him.
As for Williams, he’s got it all going on at Syracuse:
- His parents are alumni
- He will get immediate playing time
- He seems to have hit it off well with Scott Shafer
- The Orange fan base is clamoring for him stay in-state
The Fizz wouldn’t be surprised if Doug Marrone is one step ahead of the quick moving Al Golden. If Miami’s new head coach flew to NYC to see Williams, we’d hope Marrone set up Ishaq with a sitdown next to an NFL star and SU alum.
History is an undeniable part of the Syracuse lore, and here’s to hoping that Ishaq Williams is the next part of that long Orange tradition.
Posted: Mike Couzens