Orange Nation laments the football program’s inability to land the “Big Fish” on a regular basis. And this website is certainly guilty of that discussion as well. The Fizz has tracked SU’s quest for big time football prospects since it launched in ’09. We have documented the processes of trying to finally grab that program-defining athlete, one that will open up the doors for the next group of elite players. But as we’ve seen recently, all that glitters on the recruiting trail isn’t always gold. In fact, almost all of the SU former targets have gone bust.
Yesterday, one-time SU recruit Ishaq Williams was reinstated into Notre Dame, which is a step closer to playing again, but his official return to the football team is still questionable. Ishaq had one of the most contentious recruitments of any major player, since his parents were both SU grads. The Fizz took a lot of heat at the time for questioning his dad’s hysteria-producing/attention-grabbing actions before Ishaq’s announcement. Ishaq chose ND, then got popped in the academic fraud scandal. He has recorded one sack in three years there.
Ebenezer Ogundeko was the next great defensive star from NYC, one that would change the hopes of SU recruiting. It appeared to come down to Syracuse and Clemson. Ebo memorably chose the Tigers, in part because of its proximity (?), and now has been dismissed from the program for credit card fraud. He apparently doctored the magnetic strip on his card so that it charged to a different account. He has transferred to FCS Tennessee State, where he may have to sit out 10 games on suspension. He had 5 tackles in his Clemson career.
Quarterback Chad Kelly also flamed out at Clemson. He was booted from the team last year for essentially being a knucklehead. He was at odds with the coaching staff from Day One. He has transferred to Ole Miss, but his wayward behavior hasn’t stopped. He was charged in a nightclub fight with bouncers this winter in his native Buffalo. As Hall of Famer Jim Kelly’s nephew, Chad’s recruitment was highly scrutinized. Eventually, he spurned the Orange as well.
We all hope Robert Washington turns the page on highly coveted SU targets who flame out because of off the field problems. Maybe Washington will become the first to open the door to 5-star recruits at the Dome once again. But the issues that have derailed Ishaq, Ogundeko and Kelly’s football careers are worth noting. Sometimes the big fish is just a lot of seaweed.