The saying goes that when one door closes, another one opens. In Syracuse’s case, the opposite came true on National Signing Day: after several doors opened, one closed in emphatic and embarrassing fashion.
Four-star running back Mychale Salahuddin, who had reportedly narrowed his list of schools down to SU and Pittsburgh, signed with the Panthers on Wednesday. Salahuddin is a consensus top-five all-purpose back in the Class of 2018 and one of the top overall players in the Washington, D.C., area. He would have represented a major addition for the Orange — but this news is neither crushing nor surprising.
Since we first heard that Syracuse was on the radar for Salahuddin’s services, Dino Babers has locked down two other stud running backs. In late January, Abdul Adams announced that he is transferring to SU from Oklahoma, where he had been buried on the depth chart despite averaging more than nine yards per carry. Exactly one week later, three-star 2018 recruit Jarveon Howard verbally committed to the Orange, then put pen to paper on National Signing Day
NCAA rules dictate that Adams has to sit out 2018, and Howard may not see the field a ton as a freshman. But those guys are the ball-carriers of the future for Syracuse — they’re the ones who might be able to save the Orange’s anemic run game.
So, there was no reason to be crushed if Salahuddin chose Pittsburgh. His commitment would have been gravy.
Then, the press conference happened.
After a minute-long monologue that ended with, “I’ve got something in store for this city and this school,” Salahuddin picked up the Syracuse hat and began to put it on. When it was roughly 75 percent on, Salahuddin shook his head, ripped the orange cap off, tossed it back on the table, stood up, took off his USC sweatshirt (he decommitted from the Trojans a long time ago), unbuttoned his shirt, and revealed a Pittsburgh tee.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Here’s the Salahuddin video.<br><br>WARNING: May cause blood to boil. <a href=”https://t.co/xJiNNp60tV”>https://t.co/xJiNNp60tV</a></p>— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) <a href=”https://twitter.com/OrangeFizz/status/961285548630593536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
Some fans will view it as nothing more than a funny stunt. Others (the majority) will view it as a slap in the face. The good news? The Orange will see Salahuddin every season. I can’t wait for him to take his first carry in the Carrier Dome and immediately get showered with boos.
Good luck to Mychale Salahuddin, and congrats to Pittsburgh. That athletics department could use some good news.