One of the most anticipated spring football sessions in recent Syracuse history is highlighted by the the return of a face that disappeared in a cloud of mystery – Shane Raupers.
The former SU recruit initially came to campus as a scholarship kicker, but will now compete for the open punting job as a walk-on. Raupers’ fade into the abyss was not only bizarre, but controversial as well.
At the time, The Fizz reported:
“The (departure of) Raupers is a strange scenario. First, he essentially had won the job with just a walk-on behind him. Second, he was only a freshman in his first days on campus. Third, he was a great athlete in high school at Athens and had major upside.
Few know the reason behind his departure, because¬†his family does not want to comment on the issue.
But could this be a classic case of a¬†Big Man on Campus in high school (Raupers was also the team‚Äôs quarterback), who came to SU and wasn‚Äôt used to the criticism of playing D-1 football? A good player who only needed to adjust to college life, couldn‚Äôt make it through two-a-days? This all seemed to strike Marrone differently than the other (players leaving the program).”
Raupers eventually turned up months later on The Fizz wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume for Halloween, only adding another level of weirdness to the story.
Two summers ago, Doug Marrone was holding his first training camp and an exodus of player departures alarmed many in Orange Nation. Because The Dougie is now incredibly popular, it’s easy to forget there was plenty of early skepticism surrounding his seemingly tyrannical ways.
One day Raupers was the starting kicker, going through field goal drills in front of the team. The next day he had left the program, with no word from either SU or Raupers on why. The questioning of Marrone’s tactics even elicited an abnormally defensive response from the head coach.
“It does offend me if people think we’re running people off. It really does. Because anyone that knows me, anyone knows what my philosophy is – my philosophy is always develop the person first before you develop the player. Young coaches have asked me why I’ve been so successful in coaching. I’ve always said that statement and I believe that.”
Marrone could’ve strained a rotator cuff patting himself on the back at the time, which seems so out of character looking back. But clearly The Dougie was feeling fire from all around his newly-inherited program. Remember at the time all that was left at kicker was walk-on Ryan Lichtenstein (who served quite admirably that freshman season). Serendipity on the Hill: Raupers will compete with Lichtenstein for the punting job. Here was Marrone at the time.
“Would we like to have another kicker in the program? Absolutely. I’m not going to tell you it’s a great situation.”
To the critics that questioned why a startling 18 players left the program in Marrone’s first offseason?
“I can answer those people. One, they don’t know who I am. They don’t know what I believe in. They don’t know how much I care about this university. They don’t know I left the NFL to come back to help student-athletes. The people that say that are ignorant to who I am.”
It’s amazing to think the growth this program has gone through in less than two years. While a walk-0n punter won’t have an enormous impact in the SU football season, the story underscores how different the state of the Orange is. In August ’09, questions abounded about the head coach’s approach and a talented recruit named Shane Raupers disappearance from the program. Nineteen months later, The Dougie is a king and Raupers returns to the team.