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The Telegram
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Syracuse inks 19 players, including two quarterbacks

  • FEBRUARY 6 COLLEGE FOOTBALL Scott Shafer’s first head coaching job came in the blink of an eye. When Doug Marrone abruptly left Syracuse for the Buffalo Bills a month ago, Shafer gladly took the position, but the new Orange boss had to hit the recruiting grou...
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  • Scott Shafer’s first head coaching job came in the blink of an eye.
    When Doug Marrone abruptly left Syracuse for the Buffalo Bills a month ago, Shafer gladly took the position, but the new Orange boss had to hit the recruiting ground running after Marrone took most of his coaches with him to the NFL.
    So many recruits, so little time.
    But Shafer quickly filled out his new staff, then took the trail of trying to convince prospects to come aboard a team that has resurfaced as a postseason player but is headed for a new conference.
    That’s a difficult row to hoe, but Shafer did what he could. And on Wednesday, national signing day, it was announced that the Orange had 19 new members.
    Not bad, all told.
    “I’m really excited about this class,” Shafer said. “We had to rekindle the approach. They did a great job of getting out there.”
    Shafer’s biggest void as the Orange prepare to leave the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in July is at quarterback with the departure of record-setting starter Ryan Nassib. He thrived under the Orange’s up-tempo, no-huddle attack installed last season. With a run game that began to excel at midseason with Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, the offense helped lead Syracuse to an 8-5 record.
    But first things first. Shafer wants to start up front, as this class includes four offensive linemen and three defensive linemen. There are also three linebackers, three wideouts, two quarterbacks, two defensive backs and two tight ends. The recruits hail from 13 states, with Florida topping the list at four and New York, California, and Illinois with two apiece. Five are junior college transfers.
    Austin Wilson of Pennsylvania and Mitch Kimble of Illinois will be in the mix at quarterback in the competition to replace Nassib. Wilson was a senior team captain at East Pennsboro, completing 111 of 202 passes for 1,800 yards and 25 scores.
    Tight end Tyler Provo will try to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Nick, also a tight end who played four years for the Orange and had a school-record 51 catches as a senior in 2011.
    “It’s great to continue the legacy of having a Provo in the program,” Shafer said.
    Shafer, who said Marrone had been a big help, said one of the other focuses was to add depth at linebacker and felt that had been addressed with the addition of Luke Arciniega, Josh Kirkland, and Marqez Hodge.
    Last year, Marrone lost three prospects at the 11th hour. Shafer’s biggest setback was the decision by quarterback Zach Allen of Texas to switch from the Orange to Texas Christian after Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett joined Marrone in Buffalo. Kimble, who originally committed to Northern Illinois, fills Allen’s spot.
    Page 2 of 2 - Marrone did a good job addressing the team’s needs in 2012, inking 22 players last year in a class that included two four-star athletes. And like last year, Shafer lost a couple more besides Allen. New York City-area running backs Augustus Edwards and Laray Smith, who were headed to Syracuse before the coaching shake-up, signed with other schools.
    “Any time you have a change, you have to adjust, see if they want to play for us,” Shafer said. “Some of the kids we lost, I’m happy for them, too. They all get a piece of the pie. We’ve lost some battles and we’ve won a few. You’re never going to win them all. We’ll look forward to playing against them. There’s no hard feelings.”
    Still, Shafer and his new staff managed to hold their own considering the circumstances. It wasn’t easy.
    “At one point, there was only three of us on the road,” said wide receivers coach Rob Moore, a former Syracuse star. “It’s almost impossible to touch every kid that you want to, so we were scrambling for a while. I think, given the situation, we came out of this thing pretty good.”
    The Orange pretty much stayed where they were before Marrone’s departure. Syracuse was ranked No. 73 on Wednesday on recruiting service Scout.com, just behind future ACC partners Duke and Georgia Tech but ahead only of Boston College. The Orange’s class was ranked No. 71 on Rivals.com.
    Shafer was quick with a counter when questioned about that.
    “You take that five-star guy and a 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,” Shafer said. “Yeah, we may not be the fastest, we may not be the biggest, we may not be the strongest, but we’re going to play our butts off here.
    “We’ll play in this conference with a chip on our shoulder.”

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