National Signing Day: Scott Shafer Talks Syracuse Football Recruits

USA TODAY Sports

Scott Shafer talked to the media at Manley Field House about the newest round of Syracuse recruits. And he did so in the only way he knows how - making you want to strap on a uniform and win one for the gipper. Here are the highlights.

His impressions of the 2014 class:

  • "I feel really strong about this class and really excited and proud of the way our coaches and support staff went about finishing this class and holding onto kids who were getting bombarded by a lot of people."
  • "Our focus was to find a group of young men that were of character and that fit the mold of what we’re looking for here at Syracuse."
  • "We had some skewed numbers (by position) when I first took the job a year ago and we really needed to find balance. And we did that."

On the offensive side:

  • Shafer is very pleased that the recruits will bring competition for starting positions, particularly at quarterback.
  • "You can never have enough quarterbacks, especially if they’re athletes. I think we all learned a valuable lesson watching the Super Bowl and watching Russell Wilson play, in how valuable it is to have a quarterback who can run and create plays."
  • He only wanted offensive linemen who are exceptional, could play tackle and had length.  SU found two - Denzel Ward and Aaron Roberts.
  • At receiver, "The goal was to go out and find some long guys. I like tall wide receivers that can go up and make plays when they’re covered."
  • "We weren’t just looking at 40 speed and we weren’t just looking at size. We were looking at the video tape to see who can make plays when matched face-to-face with them."
  • "We wanted one (running back) that could be a kid that could play both at the tailback position and even get out and play in the slot and even catch the ball out of the backfield. I think we found that guy," he said referring to Ervin Phillips.
On defense:
  • Syracuse needed about 4-5 linebackers.  Shafer looked for players similar to Dyshawn Davis, who could run well and blitz the quarterback.
  • Shafer wanted "beef" at the defensive line position.  The Orange ended up with Wayne Williams, a 6-foot-5 and 335 pound player from Brooklyn.
  • "He’s an explosive player. We’ve been trying to get him in for a long time."
  • The Orange recruited seven defensive backs, more than any other position.  This was to address to losses to graduation in the secondary.  SU also needed help in special teams on the kicking game, Shafer said.
On the recruiting process:
  • Shafer put a lot of emphasis on character, leadership and education.  He said 18 players in the class had been team captains, including a few who had the title for several years.
  • "The biggest thing was to match up our core values here with these kids and make sure it fit. And it fit, in most instances."
  • He said he enjoys recruiting, particularly to be able to meet new players and their families.
  • "What was most revealing was that people knew that we won three bowl games in the past four years. People knew that we have a great education to offer. I think they were also impressed with that fact that we graduate 77 percent of our student-athletes."
  • "We’ve been a program that knew that it was important to learn how to truly develop a young man...Those two and three star guys that you mentioned – not only do they have a chip on their shoulder, but they understand that there is a lot of work that has to be done to get to the point they want to be. So they’re hungry. And I like kids that are hungry that can play the game the way we want them to."
  • On bringing in six players from Florida: "I really like the skill from down in that area. I have for many years. I feel indebted to the kids from southern Florida. They’ve helped my career. They’ve made me look like a much better coach than I am."
And of course, there were the "Shaferisms":
  • "Good job getting here through the snow," he told reporters.  "We got a bunch of hard-nosed media people out there."
  • On Naesean Howard: "He almost killed my son in a game a few years ago, knocking the heck out of him. Great kid, great personality and strong student."
  • On only getting two New York recruits: "We’re still fighting that fight to keep those kids at home. All we can do is continue to improve our product and hope that that helps us keep those kids at home."
  • "As long as we surround ourselves with people that want to play at Syracuse, we’re going to be in good shape."
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