A coaching change can certainly derail a recruiting class, but it doesn’t always have to. There’s an advantage of a brand new coaching staff because it allows a program to reach out to some fresh faces.
Once the reality set in that he wouldn’t be able to retain the entirety of Doug Marrone’s class, Scott Shafer immediately went to work to find replacements. And if other schools are plotting last-minute raids of SU’s pantry, then hey, why not take some hard-nosed dives into other school’s kitchens?
And that’s exactly what the Syracuse head coach did to land his first verbal commit – St. Louis, Missouri wide receiver Corey Winfield. The Fizz caught up with the playmaker to discuss his commitment.
Just a handful of days ago, Winfield was apparently bound for Northern Illinois, a MAC school that’s coming off an Orange Bowl appearance. But one day, as he sat in class, he received a surprise call from his coach at Riverview Gardens High School, Kenric Walker.
“He said Syracuse called about me, and I was like… hmmm.”
Winfield had zero contact with Orange coaches prior to that phone call. The NIU commit with offers from Purdue, Ball State, and Miami (OH) wasn’t on SU’s radar before the coaching change. But Shafer identified the wide receiver as a prospect worth pursuing.
Watching the tape, the 6-2, 185-pounder looks like a potential deep threat in the making. Most standout receivers in high school have the speed to create tons of separation from defensive backs. Winfield has that with a listed 40-yard dash time of 4.47. But what he shows on tape that many other players don’t is the ability to attack the football in jump ball situations in the red zone. The Rivals 3-star, Scout 2-star recruit possesses a 40-inch vertical leap. In his highlights he doesn’t only make the easy catches; he has has a knack for getting up and taking the football away from defenders.
Winfield also mentioned that he made the effort to expand his skills this season by catching more bubble screens and getting accustomed to the short passing game. After speaking with the coaching staff over the phone, Winfield was easily sold on taking a campus visit.
“When a school like that asks you to come take a visit, you can’t pass that up, you have to let them at least show you what they have.”
And Winfield enjoyed the view.
“I loved everything about Syracuse.”
On the three-day long visit this past weekend, with current Orange wideout Jarrod West as his host player, Winfield spoke with Shafer, receivers coach Rob Moore, and new offensive coordinator George McDonald. He was particularly impressed with his future position coach.
“He played 12 years in the NFL, he’s a 2-time Pro Bowler. Who wouldn’t want to be coached by Coach Moore?”
SU offered Winfield on the final day of his visit. His uncle took him out to CNY, and Winfield just wanted Shafer to speak with his parents in person to seal it. Shafer happily obliged by flying out to St. Louis, and Winfield committed on Tuesday. For Winfield, it seemed like a no-brainer to switch his commitment from Northern Illinois.
“Syracuse is better academically and athletically.”
Missouri is a solid football state, Shafer has recruited the area when he was at NIU, and just a couple hours down to road from Winfield is Columbia, where the Orange staged a comeback victory over the Mizzou to become bowl eligible. Winfield said he saw that game and was impressed.
Now he’s helping the Orange stage a comeback of its own on the recruiting trail.
Posted: Andrew Kanell