The rosters for the 2nd annual New York State High School Football Classic have been released, and it proves the endeavor has been a success for Doug Marrone and Syracuse. The Dougie rolled up his sleeves and began working on creating this event almost immediately upon taking the SU gig. The Fizz, two years ago, called it the “biggest win of Marrone’s era.”
While Marrone can’t be in direct contact with the players during their week in Central New York, it has his fingerprints all over it. Seven scholarship players from both the Upstate and Downstate rosters will play for the Orange in some capacity, another two non-scholarship players will walk-on.
From the Upstate team, future Orange include news-making (ahem) Rush-Henrietta quarterback Ashton Broyld and the state’s Class AA player of the year, Oakfield-Alabama kicker Jon Fisher. Offensive lineman Nick Robinson of C.W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville is battling mono and will sit out, but is an incoming Orange.
Meantime, Downstate quarterback Terrel Hunt of Christ the King in New York, receiver/defensive back Brandon Reddish and offensive lineman Ivan Foy, both from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, running back Tyree Smallwood of Cornwall and defensive lineman Ryan Sloan of Bellport High on Long Island will all play.
Running back Mike Messina of Rochester’s Aquinas Institute is coming to the Hill but on a lacrosse scholarship. Two linemen in the game, Chris Swanson of Rush-Henrietta and Jesse Wolf-Gould of Oneonta, are planning to walk on at SU.
Successful coaches across the country have often declared an intent to “close the borders” – keeping recruits in-state. Gary Pinkel has developed a national power in Missouri by doing this, Crazy Eyes Greg Schiano has revived Rutgers corpse of a program with it.
While New York doesn’t produce the gridiron talent of Pennsylvania or Dirty Jersey, SU had watched its in-state pipeline pump major talent elsewhere under Groobers. Both Mike Hart (Syracuse) and Ray Rice (New Rochelle) became stars elsewhere. Blue-chipper Ishaq Williams (Bronx) is headed out to Notre Dame.
The Dougie smartly made his relationships with the high school coaches a priority as soon as he took over. With elbow grease and those connections, developed the upcoming Upstate/Downstate Classic. It’s a brilliant marketing maneuver to sell the program to New York State kids. Make playing at the Carrier Dome a goal of every prep standout in New York, who then come back home and tell their boys about a week of being a star at Syracuse University.
It puts SU and the Carrier Dome at the center of the state’s high school football orbit. While Marrone and the SU staff have to keep their distance to avoid tampering with recruits who are not on campus yet or heading to other schools, bringing other high school coaches to CNY and working within the SU facilities helps grow the bond.
This year, eight players on the Upstate/Downstate rosters have accepted scholarships to play for Syracuse. Two more are attempting to walk-on at SU. Every talented player in the state is coming to bask in the sun for a week in CNY. The Orange program is at the heart of New York’s high school football universe. Win. Marrone, you sly dog, you’ve done it again.