I was perusing the latest incarnation of the Syracuse Football roster today with the intention of seeing who else has been scrubbed clean from its existence. Instead, I noticed a whole bunch of names I had never seen before.
Jonathan Mason, Jideofor Anene, Clayton Cleveland, Zachary McCarrell, Hassan Aliyu. I figured most if not all of them are walk-ons, some of the many that will grace the depleted roster. I suppose we'll get to know many of them over the next few weeks but there's one in particular that we can get to know right now.
Matt Williams of the Salem News recently penned an article on Clayton Cleveland, a six-foot, 218 pound freshman fullback who came to SU after his dreams of going to the Ivy League fell short.
The 19-year-old Cleveland also drew interest from Division 1 squads Miami of Ohio and Connecticut, but Orange coach Doug Marrone's Pro-Set offense made the most sense for him.
"The Big East is the Big East," Cleveland said of Syracuse's conference. "When I went up to Syracuse, it hit me that this is where I want to be. They didn't sign any fullbacks and they had an injury (at that position) in the spring."
Landing with the Orange — arguably college football's most storied program in the East — is a bit like the gridiron gods saying, "We're sorry we can't approve you for this Mercedes, Mr. Cleveland ... but we do have a Ferrari we'd like you to take a look at."
Clay had told SU they were his first choice if he didn't qualify for an Ivy League school. When that happened, he applied to come to Syracuse, got accepted and joined up with the team. Cleveland picked a good time to come to SU. Even as a walk-on, he's got a shot to compete for playing time at one of the most depleted positions on the team.
Here's what Clay said back when he was making his school selections:
First and foremost, I’m looking for the best education possible. On the football side of things I’m looking for a consistently strong and successful program.
Well, one out of two ain't bad...right?