Syracuse already has one of the top players in New York City – Augustus Edwards – on its 2013 commitment list, but the school has made it no secret that fellow borough standouts Ebenezer Ogundeko and Laray Smith are just as important to the class. Each is close to one-another, so they all took an official visit to the school together over the weekend.
"I had a great time at Syracuse, it was an experience," said Smith after returning home. "It was comfortable; I went with my friends Gus (Edwards) and Ebo (Ogundeko). We all had a good time, we enjoyed ourselves."
The trio's familiarity with the school, with both the location and the payers on the team, made the trip that much better for the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Xaverian running back.
"It was the bond," Smith added. "I don't go there, but I felt like I went there. Talking to the team, they're so close to each other even after the season. They stay together all the time and coaches help them in the offseason with grades and stuff, too.
"Everybody takes care of each other."
Wayne Morgan, a former Brooklyn high school standout himself and current SU freshman defensive back, hosted Smith on the trip. The two have been friends for some time.
"He's a cool guy, he's a funny character," said the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder. "He showed me a good time around Syracuse, told me where to go and everything."
Like Morgan before him, the Orange is selling not only the brand of "New York's college team," but the conference shift to the Atlantic Coast Conference as well, which set for the 2013 season. It sparked plenty of "what if" conversation between both the committed players and standouts yet to declare.
"Moving the the ACC will be a big change, and me, Ebo and Gus could attend the school to have a better chance at winning it," Smith admitted. "We'll see what happens."
"Syracuse is my top school right now," he continued. "Regardless of the offers, with Syracuse there's a lot going on. They're definitely a school up in the making. They did pretty good this year, they won the Big East championship and now they're in the ACC. I feel like if me ad Gus and everybody were to work together, in a year-or-so, we'll be one of the top teams in the ACC.
"With Gus, we always talk about going there and being on the same team to make a difference. With Ebo, there's some good for us, like playing time early and the ACC."
The group of prospects did plenty in just a few days of time in the ‘Cuse. A trip to Dinosaur Barbecue was in the plans, as was a concert put on by rapper French Montana and even good seats to watch the fourth-ranked Syracuse men's basketball team beat Monmouth on Saturday. But taking in the football team's bowl practice, as it prepares for West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl later this month, stood out to Smith because of the possibilities for next season should he elect to play for the in-state school.
"The practice was fun, I had a good time there," he admitted. "I'm actually going to the bowl game, so I'm looking forward to that. I watched the running backs. They're talented and really good, but I feel like I have potential to play and run the ball and be one of the best there.
"Me and Gus could be the best there."
All in all, the weekend helped solidify SU's status with one of the fastest players in the northeast.
"I'm going to continue to keep Syracuse as number one," said Smith. "I'm not going to think too much about it right now, school comes first because without grades, you're not going anywhere. Make sure that's going well and make my decision soon."
The three-star hinted at possibly making a decision at the Semper Fidelis All-American game early next month in California. So exactly how much ground do programs like Tennessee and West Virginia, which has yet to offer him, have to make up in the mean time?
"It's going to be kind of hard because Syracuse is really comfortable right now," said Smith. "Not because I know people there, but because I've known Coach [John] Anselmo and [Head] Coach [Doug] Marrone for so long, relationship-wise.
"With Coach Marrone, we didn't speak much football. But he talked about the opportunity I have there. He was just saying, ‘one thing we don't have is your speed.' I can be a big play-maker, not at just running back. An athlete, everywhere like in the slot and kick returns."
Smith excels on the track at Xaverian as well, and he is looking forward to competing once again this spring. He holds track offers from successful programs around the country as well, but football is still slightly the priority at the moment. The Semper Fidelis game is January 4 in Los Angeles. Morgan played in the game last season before signing with Syracuse.