Football

Signed and delivered: Scott Shafer unveils Class of 2013 on National Signing Day

Alyssa Pooler | Staff Photographer

Scott Shafer addresses the media at a National Signing Day press conference. The Syracuse head coach locked up his 19-man Class of 2013 throughout the day.

For 10 minutes, Scott Shafer spoke excitedly about each individual in Syracuse’s signing class Wednesday. The head coach rattled off quick stories and scouting reports, providing insight into all 19 players’ talents.

Then, he spoke passionately about the significance of National Signing Day and the rankings that come with it – in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Orange’s class ranked 12th out of 14 programs by Scout.com, and 13th according to Rivals.com.

“The greatest thing about the game we coach and play is that you put the ball down and you play,” Shafer said. “You take that five-star guy against the two-star guy and let my guy just go after your guy with a chip on his shoulder and I’ll be excited to see where we turn out.

“Yeah, we may not be the fastest, we may not be the biggest, we may not be the strongest, but by God, we’re going to play our butts off here.”

As Shafer introduced SU’s Class of 2013 in the auditorium of the Iocolano-Petty Football Wing, he made it clear it was only a starting point. This group – highlighted by nine three-star prospects and ranked No. 75 nationally by Scout.com – will provide competition for the core of players returning. The Orange’s class is made up of six junior college transfers and 13 high school players from 13 different states.

Shafer said he and his staff pinpointed the quarterback position and the offensive line as their two primary needs. He wanted to bring in two quarterbacks to compete with the three returners, and SU achieved that goal by signing Mitch Kimble from Illinois and Austin Wilson from Pennsylvania. To add depth to the offensive line after the loss of Justin Pugh and Zack Chibane, the Orange brought in four offensive linemen.

From there, Shafer put a premium on finding playmakers, and despite losing previous verbal commits like quarterback Zach Allen, running back Augustus Edwards and defensive end Malik Brown, the head coach felt his staff did that as he went down the list of signees.

“To be honest with you, you win some, you lose some,” Shafer said. “At the end of the day, you want the guys that want to be dressed in blue and orange and I’m excited about those kids that are coming in here.”

Shafer, who was hired to replace Doug Marrone on Jan. 9, was forced to put together his first class with his staff in a short period of time. It’s a factor he acknowledged Wednesday, saying they adjusted their recruiting strategy and tried to build relationships with previous commits and other players in the weeks leading up to Signing Day.

As Shafer talked about the work his coaches did in that time, he returned to his first point of the day.

He reminded everyone of his humble beginnings playing Division-III football at Baldwin-Wallace. He pointed out that wide receivers coach Rob Moore was unheralded coming out of high school, a player with few offers, before becoming a star at Syracuse. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough, Shafer said, wasn’t the biggest or strongest player in his days at Michigan State, either.

The coaches share these stories with their recruits – players who weren’t pegged as future stars, making for the lackluster ranking. They hope the determination that propelled them through the coaching ranks is personified in their play once they arrive.

“I think our kids will appreciate the type of people that are coaching them because that’s who we are,” Shafer said.

It will be three or four years until Shafer knows what these 19 players will become, he said, but some of the best players he’s coached weren’t highly rated out of high school.

But now, the whirlwind of recruiting is behind Shafer and his staff. They can refocus their effort and energy on coaching.

The head coach was ready to go standing at the podium Wednesday, promising his players will play with a hunger and intensity to overcome any talent gap between Syracuse and its opponents.

“We’re going to play hard, we’re going to play with integrity and we’re going to play with respect for the game,” Shafer said, tapping the podium after each sentiment for emphasis, “and that’s really all I care about at this point in time.”

Top Stories