This afternoon at 3:00 p.m., running back recruit Robert Washington makes his long-awaited commitment, and the build-up has been unlike anything I've seen in Syracuse Orange football recruiting.
This isn't SU's first recent go-around with a blue chip player. Just in the last few years, we've had the Ishaq Williams saga and Ebenezer Ogundeko's decision, but neither of those recruitments helped kick into gear a massive campaign about restoring the No. 44, or anything of the sort. Their recruitments, while extremely high profile and more local to Syracuse, did not bring the type of attention, or the sheer number of articles, tweets, message boards posts that Washington's has.
And for all of that attention, there are still six schools in the running, and we legitimately have no idea what will happen a few hours from now.
The most positive thing that I can say is that this does not appear to be a courtesy inclusion for Syracuse. Washington is not a New York kid. He does not have any apparent Syracuse ties outside of this recruitment. SU wasn't even the first team to catch on to Washington or offer him, like this staff so often is. No matter what happens, Syracuse is a contender because the staff has done a good job of standing out, and Washington has apparent reverence for Syracuse's history, and may relish at the chance to help a program that has been treading water for a decade now bounce back.
This recruitment didn't need much more piled on to potentially send Syracuse fans to the moon or into a tailspin, but now we have bizarre family drama in the mix:
Syracuse running back target Robert Washington cleared the air regarding comments his father, Robert Washington Sr., made about his recruitment in an interview with Syracuse.com on Tuesday night.
"My father does not know what's going on," Washington said early Thursday evening.
Washington said that only three people know which school he'll commit to: himself, his mother and his girlfriend.
With all of this build-up, it is easy to make Washington's commitment the be-all-end-all for the team, or a total referendum on Scott Shafer's tenure as head coach. If he commits to one of the other five schools, which includes three pillars of the sport, his home state flagship, and a school that was a hair away from making the College Football Playoff and enters 2015 as a consensus top three team, I fully expect there to be a meltdown on our little corner of the internet.
I just sincerely hope there isn't one.
Washington has offers from just about every team that matters, and yet, Syracuse, a team that he owes nothing to, is a finalist. Syracuse, against all odds, is in the same race as Alabama football, even if it just for this one player, and that is pretty amazing. Notre Dame and Ohio State offered, but aren't in the mix, but Syracuse is.
If Washington chooses another school tomorrow, it will certainly be disappointing. Losing a recruiting battle of this magnitude always is, especially because of how much we've heard about Washington to this point. However, it is his choice to make, and nothing good can come from sending nasty tweets his way, or flooding the comment sections or message boards with negativity. Syracuse will suit up in the fall, and there will be more top recruits in the future to obsess over. Eventually we will get in with another top running back, and we can reignite debates about pulling our sacred number out of the rafters. There is no shame in losing a player to one of those five schools.
...and if Washington chooses Syracuse? Turn the caps lock on, crack open a beer, and let the good times roll. We do deserve that much.