Football

SU defensive coordinator Shafer is frontrunner to replace Marrone, recruit says

Scott Shafer is the frontrunner for Syracuse’s now-vacant head coaching position, a member of the Orange’s recruiting class said Monday.

SU recruit Darius Kelly said he was told by defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson that Shafer, Syracuse’s defense coordinator, is the first choice for next head coach.

“Last I heard they’re trying to get him in as the head coach,” said Kelly, a safety who is coming to SU from Pima (Ariz.) Community College. “Syracuse is trying to put him in as head coach.”

Kelly was told about former head coach Doug Marrone’s departure to the Buffalo Bills when a reporter from Scout.com called him Sunday morning. With Kelly set to report to campus Friday, he called Henderson on Monday to discuss his situation.

Henderson told Kelly that Shafer would be announced as head coach on Sunday, Kelly said. He said he also received a call from Floyd Little telling him both coordinators, Shafer and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, would stay with the program.

Kelly signed a letter of intent to play for Syracuse on Dec. 13.

“I called Donnie Henderson today and I got a chance to talk to him about it,” Kelly said. “And he let me know that it was Coach Shafer right now is who they’re trying to put at head coach.”

Kelly said he was told by Henderson SU is trying to keep as much of its staff together as possible.

Kelly spoke with Henderson last week and was told the speculation about Marrone leaving for the NFL “was just a rumor.”

Malik Brown, a defensive end from West Palm Beach, Fla. who committed to SU, said he heard the same news of Shafer’s potential hiring after speaking to current players.

“I’ve got a lot of friends up there in Syracuse. I heard it through the grapevine,” Brown said.

Brown remains committed to SU, he said.

Trevon Trejo, a junior college defensive end and SU commit, said he had not been in contact with anyone at SU since the news broke of Marrone’s hiring.

Trejo signed a letter of intent Dec. 9 and spoke with Marrone about the opportunities he’d have at SU, sparking his original interest.

“I’m being honest, it really doesn’t affect my commitment at all,” Trejo said. “I still want to go to Syracuse, I’m just really surprised that he left.”

Brown called it a defensive player’s dream to play under Shafer.

“He’s a guru on defense,” Brown said. “If (he) turns into head coach we’re going to be a defensive-minded team. It’s going to be perfect.”

Asst. Sports Editor David Wilson contributed reporting to this article.

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