JUCO prospects have been a focus of late for the Syracuse staff as they look to fill their 2013 class. Over this past weekend, they hosted several such recruits for official visits. Among them was linebacker Josh Kirkland out of Butler Community College in Kansas.
"It was amazing," Kirkland recalled. "Syracuse is an awesome school. There's a lot neat things there. It's a lot different than Kansas, where I was raised my whole life. It was quite a bit different. But that's a good thing.
"It was a great visit. They showed me their facilities. I met with some of the players and they were real cool guys. My host was Nick Robinson. He just pretty much told me that it's a great program. It's a great place to go play football and get your degree. He said he's enjoyed it his whole life being from there."
There were several part of the trip that stood out to Kirkland. Among them were the basketball game and touring the campus. Both left big impressions on the JUCO linebacker.
"First off, they showed me the school," Kirkland explained. "They showed me the dorms and stuff like anyone else would. Then they showed us the facilities. The facilities were amazing. The weight room, I really enjoyed the weight room. It was really put together well.
"Then they had a practice dome. It was really cool considering I'm from Kansas and it's a little hotter here. So it's nice that you can go in a dome to get your practice in when it's cold or there's snow or whatever.
"Then I went to the Syracuse basketball game," he continued. "It was amazing. There was probably more people in one of those sections than in my town. It was quite a lively atmosphere."
Kirkland left the visit extremely impressed by Syracuse. While they are currently his only division one offer, it may be all he needs to make his decision.
"After visiting there, it just reassured me," Kirkland admitted. "There's quality people there and good coaches that support you 100%. It just makes you feel a whole lot better especially knowing they're a big family. Family is big where I'm from. It was just really nice.
"It was a great experience. I definitely could see myself playing there."
Another part of the trip that made a big impression was talking to the coaches. It was great for the 6-foot-3 linebacker to get to know the coaches on a different level.
"The coaches are awesome," he said. "It's kind of funny. My defensive coordinator was coach Schaffner and at Syracuse it's (Scott) Shafer. The names are very similar. They're both similar in that they're awesome guys as well. They really know the game. They've been doing it for so long that they have knowledge of the game.
"It's really nice because coach Shafer was brought up the same way I was. So he kind of understands my background and things like that. The head coach, he's an awesome guy. We talked a lot about hunting and fishing. He's been a city guy his whole life and kind of jokes about that. I had a few hunting and fishing stories for him. We went back and forth a lot. He's just a really good guy."
After the visit, Kirkland has a short time frame as to when he will make his decision. That could bode well for the Orange.
"I'm looking at possibly this week," Kirkland claimed. "Like I said I come from a big family. I have five brothers and sisters. I'm going to go home and talk to my parents, get things situated. I took some videos which I thought were pretty cool.
"Just kind of talk to them and then this week, sometime, I was thinking I should at least have a good idea of where I'm going. Syracuse is at the top right now."
Kirkland said the Syracuse staff is looking at him as an outside linebacker with the versatility to slide to the middle if needed. He is an early enrollee and will be arriving on campus in January for whichever school he chooses.