New Jersey running back Dontae Strickland committed to Syracuse today. This you knew. But what you probably didn't know was the discussion he's had with the Orange brass around wearing the number 44.
Of course, this isn't the first time the historic number has come up in conversation since its retirement a decade ago. Many of us here are on the #Restore44 bandwagon pretty regularly, and there was talk of former Orange-current-Falcon running back Jerome Smith donning the number at one point in his career. Smith said no thanks, in part because of the weight of wearing that sort of history and pressure on your chest every game. But obviously the book's never truly closed on the issue, which brings us to Strickland:
"I told them at first, I'll wear whatever number they give me... And then if I fulfill those standards and everything, then they'll talk about it with the people up there right now. But even them just talking about it is enough for me to be satisfied. Wearing it would put the cherry on top."
Do you see that, Syracuse?! Using 44 as a recruiting tool and a status to be reached is NOT ridiculous, and in fact, could pay some huge dividends. Strickland's only been alive for what, one 44 at Syracuse -- and that assumes he was conscious enough of it then (unlikely) -- and yet WANTS to wear that number! While he claims it didn't have an impact on his decision, I think the option to give it out could certainly appeal to recruits as we continue to get into bigger conversations for top prospects.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to a small committee: Floyd Little, Jim Brown and DOCTOR Gross, so the decision's ultimately on them, as well as the willingness of players to wear it. While players currently in the program have an aversion since the number's up in the rafters, perhaps making it more attainable makes the desire to wear it increase as well.
In the meantime, we'll see who can ascend into that conversation in the coming years. Maybe it's Strickland. Or perhaps a current back like George Morris II or Devante McFarlane? Or perhaps it's even a future Orange player.
Fun conversations coming up in the next few years, I'm sure. #Restore44