The JUCO route is one that Syracuse football hasn't ignored in recent years, and the past weekend emphasized how 2013 may be the biggest year for the pipeline. Three players officially visited from the same school, and each had a good time on campus.
Perhaps none more than L.A. Harbor College offensive lineman John Miller, who was pumped about SU's new facilities, players and coaches and the school's academics.
"Bar none, they have excellent facilities," he began. "I love what they're doing in that aspect and the whole team – they're like a family. Academics are off the chart up there…it was all the frosting on the cake.
"They're top 15 in the country in the business school," he continued on his planned major. "Even if it doesn't work out with football, by having a degree from the Whitman School of Business I can go to any employer and have a shot to get a nice job. "
Academics are important to any person transferring schools, especially one who takes the JUCO football route. Little is promised, so a degree is important to fall back on. The presentations and tours Miller took in were big, but it didn't mean he wouldn't have any fun while in Central New York.
"My host was Rob Trudo," he said with a laugh. "He's great; he's very, very funny. Outgoing guy, he made sure I had a good time. He showed me a little bit of the insight in what goes on. I was glad he was my host; it was a very fun experience."
Like Trudo, Miller is looking to play guard at Syracuse and he particularly mentioned the left guard spot to be vacated by senior Zack Chibane after the 2012 season. Playing time is important, but Miller isn't ruling out a redshirt or even playing some center at the next level. Offensive line coach Greg Adkins, who is recruiting Miller and paid him an in-home visit in California last week, pitched some of the same to the 6-foot-4, 310-pounder while he was in town. The two have grown somewhat close recently.
"He was very straight up about everything, he didn't have a slide-show and he wasn't pointing out numbers on an iPad," Miller recalled from last week's visit from the coach. "He said ‘our academics speak for themselves.' But everything was better in person."
The relationship between the two has only grown, and it's helped Miller feel more comfortable with his possible cross-country move in the near future.
"It started with his first phone call to me, it was very comfortable," he admitted. "The first time I was talking to him, he was asking about my personal life and he made the decision to give me a scholarship offer."
The versatile lineman also got the chance to bond with his future unit, should he sign with Syracuse.
"I got to go to dinner with the starting O-line, and got to know them," said Miller. "They gave me the insight, they didn't sugarcoat anything. They told me Adkins would make me a better man, not just a better player. That's something that stuck out to me.
"He (Adkins) mentors you, he leads by example and he's more involved than what a regular coach would be."
With everything seemingly in-line with Syracuse, the first school to offer Miller a scholarship, there was a small urge to commit. But the sophomore continued to bring himself back to earth to provide perspective within the entire recruiting process, even though the December graduate anticipates a decision before Christmas.
"I had to tell myself to make sure I relax and go through the whole nine yards when it comes to evaluating the schools," said Miller, who wants to take another trip or two to "compare" it to that of Syracuse's official visit experience.
The Orange staff got the sense he was close, but didn't pressure him into a decision despite Miller's apparent comfort while in town.
"I tell them I'm evaluating it, I can see myself fitting in over time," he said. "It's definitely going to be a different look and feel being all the way across the country. When I was thinking about it, it was really cool to step back and say ‘I think I can fit in there.'
"It's a relaxed place, but it's also a very busy place. It's like their offense, always constantly moving on the ball. Always on top of it."
The theme of the SU offense may reflect what could happen with Miller's recruitment as well, especially once other programs find out about his official visit. With reported SEC and ACC interests along with the Pac-12, there could be a spike on the horizon.
"I'm expecting recruiting to pick up, but Syracuse is still No. 1 on the list," he maintained. "I don't want to make any rash decisions just yet. I want to make sure I do it the right way and I'm fully comfortable with it.
"I'm open-minded, Syracuse is across the country – so it's safe to say I'm open to going anywhere in the country."
Miller, who will have three seasons to play two no matter where he enrolls, visited SU with L.A. Harbor teammates Joe Walker and Cleshawn Page. The three have talked about playing together at the next level, and each enjoyed their trips to ‘Cuse though it doesn't appear to be a deciding factor for either player.