New SU recruiting policy complicating management of scholarships

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 16, 2015 at 10:14 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Scott Shafer called it a formula that comes down to numbers and timing.The Orange’s coaching staff has a desired number of players it wants at each position within the 85-scholarship allotment. Once they reach that for each recruiting class, the opportunity for other players essentially closes — even if they have a scholarship offer.Offering more scholarships than spots available is a necessity, but also problematic.“A lot of those kids will say no to us and there are instances where we have to say no to them as well,” Syracuse head coach Shafer said.As big-time recruits have started verbally committing as sophomores and juniors, Shafer said SU’s coaching staff added a prerequisite this year. In order to further evaluate prospects, it wouldn’t accept a commitment unless a player visited campus first, barring extenuating circumstances.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut by implementing that rule, Syracuse has temporarily turned down players that already received scholarship offers.“When you see his film and it says he’s 6-foot-5 and you see him in person he’s at 6-foot-1,” SU’s director of recruiting operations Eric White said of a hypothetical situation, “… Now we don’t know if we can take someone at his position that doesn’t hit the criteria that we wanted.”In June, Class of 2016 offensive tackle Sam Heckel planned on committing to Northwestern. But just four days earlier, the Wildcats received a verbal from another offensive lineman.All of a sudden, Heckel didn’t have a spot.“Most schools just care about the player, not the person,” Heckel said.When Heckel visited Syracuse a couple weeks following the Northwestern situation transpired, he received a scholarship offer and guards and centers coach Joe Adam told him that SU only had one spot left at the position. Fearing that he would lose another opportunity, Heckel chose the Orange two days later.If another offensive lineman had committed to Syracuse before Heckel, he wouldn’t have a spot on the team.After Class of 2016 wide receiver KJ Gray committed to Boston College in June, it was reported by Syracuse.com that he was told two months earlier that SU didn’t have any more spots left at his position. Sadiq Palmer was the second Class of 2016 player to choose the Orange and is the only wide receiver in the class.Gray declined to comment for this story.“We try to avoid (uncommittable offers) if we can,” White said. “But a lot of times what will happen is … this kid committed to us and now we’re full and we can’t take the other kid. But we try to be upfront with the kid as much as we can (beforehand) and just tell them, ‘Hey, we have two spots left at this position.’”By adding in the mandatory pre-commitment visit, Syracuse’s coaches get a better picture of whom they’re recruiting. They can actually shake the recruit’s hand instead of exchanging direct messages on Twitter. They can look them in the eye instead of looking at their avatar photo.In late July, Osceola (Florida) High School defensive back Devon Clarke tweeted that he was committing to Syracuse. He had an offer from SU, but didn’t talk to the coaches before sending the tweet. He didn’t know the Orange’s rules.Clarke, a Class of 2016 player, hadn’t visited Syracuse yet, so the coaches didn’t accept his commitment.The next day, Clarke tweeted, “(Shaking my head) thought the big orange was the place.”But after speaking with tight ends coach Jake Moreland, Clarke learned that he needed to visit SU first. He’s now setting up a visit to SU at some point this fall.“‘I don’t know where I want to go anymore because I really wanted to go to Syracuse,’” Clarke recalled thinking. “But then they said, ‘We still want you. We just want you to come visit our campus.’ … I was like ‘alright, that’s fine.’”Once Clarke visits campus, the coaching staff will get a better sense of how he might fit in with the team. Or, perhaps the coaches will realize that he wouldn’t be a good fit.That’s what happened to Class of 2016 Colonia (New Jersey) High School outside linebacker Solomon Manning. After attending Syracuse’s prospect camp in June, Manning was hoping to make a decision a few days later so he could wrap up his recruitment and start to focus on his senior year of high school.Manning’s top three choices were SU, Rutgers and North Carolina. But on his ride home from Syracuse, wide receivers coach Bobby Acosta contacted him and said he wouldn’t be able to commit to SU until midway through the season. The decision to make the offer uncommittable was Shafer’s, Manning said. Acosta told Manning that Shafer thought he was stiff in the hips.“If you give someone an offer and they can’t commit to it, it’s like giving someone a car and they can’t drive it,” Manning said.Over the next few months, Manning would have to improve his flexibility for his offer to be back in tact. But he wanted to commit over the summer, so he ruled out the Orange and committed to Rutgers.In the next two weeks, two outside linebackers verbally committed to the Orange. While it’s unknown how many OLB spots remain, it’s two fewer spots than were available when Manning committed to Rutgers.“If I knew it wouldn’t be committable until the season, I didn’t want to take that chance waiting on them and then never making an offer because they would have other spots fill up,” he said.Managing who can and can’t commit is tough, White said. Once SU hits the desired number, it won’t take another player at that position unless their talent is off the charts. Regardless of how strong a relationship is with a player, the Orange sticks to Shafer’s formula.SU follows a structure similar to most schools, Shafer and White both said. And despite recognizing its flaws, Syracuse carries on with it.“When spots are gone, they’re gone, for the most part,” White said. “It’s a bad deal, but it’s kind of how the business works.” Commentslast_img

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