Syracuse's 2010 Class Shows a Return to Recruiting Roots

Dan LyonsContributor IDecember 8, 2009

Doug Marrone is not the first football coach to attempt to rejuvenate a once-proud Syracuse program.  

In 1981, a man named Dick MacPherson became the head coach at Syracuse University, after a disappointing six-year tenure by Frank Maloney.  

Coach "Mac" started his career with a few mediocre seasons, but the winds of change came with his recruiting philosophy, which would allow him to land a bevy of great players in nine years at the helm.  

One of these players was a talented young offensive tackle from the Bronx named Doug Marrone.

Marrone entered Syracuse University in 1983, one year before the monumental upset of the nation's No. 1 team—the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The win that would forever mark the upswing in Syracuse football that peaked in the undefeated 1987 season.

Under Coach Mac, Doug Marrone learned what was required to make a school like SU a winner, and, after his brief NFL career, everything Doug Marrone did in his coaching career was intended to bring him closer to landing the head coaching job at Syracuse.

If he is to succeed like Coach Mac, who is entering the College Football Hall of Fame tonight, it will start with recruiting.

Syracuse University, a mid-sized private institution in central New York, will never have the benefits of a large public university in a football hotbed.  

However, there are fertile grounds that Syracuse has tapped into to get great football players in the past.  

The most important thing Marrone can do is control New York.  

While not a great football state when compared to Florida, California, Texas, and others, New York produces some very good college football players every year, many of whom fly under the radar.  

In the last few tenures, the state's best players have been poached by historic programs like Penn State and Notre Dame, and recently, a resurgent Rutgers University.  

Coach Marrone needs to gain control of his home state.  

Out of the 23 current commits that Syracuse has for 2010, nine are from New York State.  

One of the earliest commits, Coach MacPherson's own grandson Macky, is an offensive lineman from Syracuse, but the other eight are from the more untapped New York City area.  

One of the more highly acclaimed of these recruits is Long Island quarterback John Kinder from Lawrence High School, a strong-armed scrambler who may lead Marrone's "Stallion" package, a version of the Wildcat formation.

The ascension of the Rutgers football program under coach Greg Schiano coincided with the downward trend of Syracuse football under Robinson.  

A major part of this was the loss of Syracuse's New Jersey pipeline.  

Marrone has vowed to win back  New Jersey and has started with signing two recruits from the Garden State—receiver Dyshawn Davis of Woodbury and lauded kicker Ross Krautman of Franklin Lakes.  

This season's 31-13 demolition of Rutgers will likely go a long way to fulfilling Marrone's promise.

Like New Jersey, nearby Pennsylvania is a very strong football state, and Syracuse has always battled with Penn State and Pittsburgh for recruits throughout.  

This year, Marrone has signed two strong recruits from the Pittsburgh area—running back Dom Timbers and linebacker Myles Davis.  

Timbers was one of the more promising prospects in the Pittsburgh area early in his high school career, but injury dropped him from many radars.  

The flashy halfback has fully recovered and is having an amazing senior season.

While the Eastern recruits will always produce the base of a strong Syracuse recruiting class, one football goldmine is what set Coach Mac apart and allowed for the success that the Orangemen had in the '80s and the '90s under coach Paul Pasqualoni.  

The ability to land lesser-known players from Florida set Syracuse apart from other Eastern programs.  

While Greg Robinson did not focus on Florida, Marrone has been thriving there, picking up five commits in the last month.  

Perhaps the two most impressive players in the class thus far are defensive end Max Beaulieu and cornerback Jeremi Wilkes from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, respectively.

Beaulieu has an impressive offer list, including the likes of Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska, Purdue, South Carolina, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin.  

Wilkes has offers from Big East schools like Rutgers and Louisville, as well as Florida State, who has heavily recruited the aggressive defensive back.

If the Marrone and his staff can continue to find these gems from Florida, it will again set Syracuse apart from their Eastern rivals and allow them to compete for the Big East title.

Marrone's staff has been very impressive thus far in recruiting for the 2010 class, not only winning recruits from local states and Florida, but also retaining connections built by Robinson to the Maryland/Virginia area and Ohio.  

The staff has even gone as far west as Colorado to grab ESPN's No. 18 2010 quarterback prospect, Jonny Miller of Denver.  

Syracuse is a proud football program, currently holding the 14th spot in all-time college football wins.

However, the Orange have hit a sharp decline over the past decade.

With Marrone's rededication to recruiting the areas that have benefited his beloved alma mater is the past, as well as opening up a few new pipelines, the Orange may very well find themselves back at the top of the Big East in the matter of a few seasons.  


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