Syracuse is looking to add talent at middle linebacker with Siriki Diabate graduating. They have looked to the JUCO ranks to help fill that void, and Luke Arciniega was one of the prospects they identified. He took his official visit to Syracuse this past weekend, and liked what he saw.
"I really liked the visit, I really enjoyed myself," Arciniega admitted. "The way I look at it, the place I'm going to is not all about the nice field and facilities and everything. I'd much rather go somewhere where I enjoy the people I'm going to be around for the next couple years. That's what I got to find out about Syracuse. I look at the relationship and the bond between the coaches and the players, the players with the players. That was something I really liked and really stuck out to me.
"I haven't seen that, necessarily, at other places. I was told you won't find that anywhere else; the bond that the team has. I really liked that. The coaches are really nice people. They were real up front. They're not going to BS you at all.
"We took a tour of the campus," he continued. "We had dinner the night I got there. The next morning we had breakfast and did a tour for the education stuff. We took a tour of the facilities and the weight room. We just went through the whole process and talked about everything. Then Sunday morning, we had a meeting with the coaches and I talked with coach Doug Marrone. I talked with the defensive coordinator, coach Scott Shafer, and what would be my position coach, Steve Morrison."
The talented linebacker says the staff is coming at him hard because they need him. Holding a Syracuse offer before he arrived, he feels he could fit into the defense right away.
"Right now, the coaches were telling me that I'm one of the guys they really need," Arciniega recalled. "Coach Shafer says it's the difference between wanting and needing. They really need a middle linebacker. They were quite undersized at middle linebacker this year. Senior linebacker Siriki was about 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10 and 215 (pounds).
"That's one thing coach Shafer said why they need me. They've never really had a big MIKE (middle) linebacker. That's why he was really excited about getting me out there for the visit. They definitely showed that they wanted me. I had a great time out there."
One of the most important part of any official visit is interacting with the current players. The 6-foot-4 prospect was able to do just that with his host and other players. It was one of the biggest things he will take away from the trip.
"My host was Jerome Smith," Arciniega explained. "He's a really great guy. He made me feel real comfortable. He introduced me to just about everyone on the team while we were out. We went everywhere with the team. We talked about the ins and outs of everything, the inside stuff with practice and how it is.
"He talked about the coaches and stuff. Just a lot of stuff I wouldn't see on the visit. It made me really understand the program a lot more. He was a really great guy. I'm glad that I got him as a host."
This trip has a big impact on Arciniega's recruitment. He is still looking to take another visit next weekend, but has already cancelled one after this visit. However, a new team has entered the mix for the talented linebacker.
"Definitely, Syracuse is at the top of my list," he declared. "I actually cancelled my BYU visit for the middle of this week. I got a call from Miami (FL) today. I might be taking a visit out there. I'm not sure if I'm taking a visit out there or to Memphis next weekend. I'm still debating on that. It's a tough decision because of the timing of when Miami called me. So I'm still deciding on that.
"But with what I saw this weekend and everything that happened, that's why I put Syracuse at the top of my list."
Being a mid-year transfer who will be enrolling in January, a decision is coming up fast for the Sierra (NV) product. He has a time frame for when he wants to decide, and that could bode well for the Orange.
"The earliest I can sign is December 19th," Arciniega said. "I don't plan on having anything past that or making a decision past that. Hopefully I'll be able to decide after this weekend if I go to Memphis or Miami.
"I'll hopefully have a decision by the end of this weekend maybe. If I don't get a call from anybody else."