The new Syracuse staff, led by Scott Shafer, did not have a lot of time to try to finalize the 2013 recruiting class. With that in mind, they have moved quickly and decisively to add talent to the roster. One of their immediate targets was St. Louis (MO) wide receiver Corey Winfield, who made his decision to play for the Orange on Tuesday.
"Syracuse is a real great school," Winfield explained. "When I went out there to take the visit, I loved everything. The atmosphere, the players, the facilities, the coaches, everything. The coaches seemed like people I could hang with for the next four to five years of my life. They just treated me like a brother. I saw the facilities and checked out the engineering program.
"I talked to one of the teachers. One of the teachers, she was up there, and she gave me a tour. She was showing us all the engineering stuff, the mechanical engineering program. There was actually a car that was brought into a classroom. Somehow they got it into the school and hooked it up to some machine that moved it around. The car is now in the classroom and they work on it. They show us all the engineering things and do things hands on. So that was a big plus, the academics. The academics, the facilities, and the players, it was just all awesome."
Winfield visited this past weekend, and loved what he saw. But he needed approval from his family before making the decision to flip from Northern Illinois. When Shafer visited his family during an in-home visit, the decision was made. Winfield committed before the coaches, which included new QB coach Tim Lester, could leave his house.
"My parents loved him (Shafer)," Winfield admitted. "My uncle, of course, had seen them before on the visit. My mom, she really loved it. I could tell the way she was looking at things. She didn't have any questions on things because she was so excited even though she's sad I'm leaving. But she knows it's a better place for me to go and that I'm going to go out there and work hard.
"Actually I knew she was excited when she started crying. She said she wasn't crying because she was sad, but she was crying because she was excited. So that was really great. We all got so fired up and then coach asked me what I was thinking. I told him I was ready to be a part of the Orange. They were excited and said they can't wait to coach me. My dad said he can't stop bragging about me at work and stuff like that. Everybody was loving it, and my family is my number one supporter."
With the coaching change, developing a relationship was paramount in being able to get Winfield to flip. The staff was able to make a big impression in a short amount of time.
"Actually it was very important," Winfield remarked. "I can get a vibe around people and when I got down there and met coach Lester the first day, it was just great. He was so excited and pumped up, he made me feel comfortable. He was so excited about getting me down here and stuff. When I got down there I met the offensive coordinator (George McDonald) and the wide receivers coach (Rob Moore). They were just telling me everything.
"They were just telling me they're not going to bull crap me or lie to me about things. They're going to be straight up with things. They're going to keep everything on the table. They're not going to tell you this or tell you that. They were just being very honest which was one of the big things. The recruiting process, it can go bad. One minute they can tell you they love you and the next they don't want you.
"But when I went out there, for the three days I was out there, I spent time with them every day," he continued. "I ate dinner with them, ate breakfast with them, and they even dropped me off at my hotel and stuff. It was just perfect. We got to talk about a lot of stuff. After signing day I'll have more time to talk to them about the program and everything else. But I liked getting to know those guys. It was great."
With his Syracuse career on the horizon, Winfield is already focusing on what he wants to accomplish with the Orange. He believes he can make an impact right away if he continues to work hard.
"The fans can expect a hard working player," Winfield described. "Winning the ACC Championship is my goal. My big goal right away is to go in and play as a true freshman. I know if I work hard and do everything I need to do, I'm pretty sure I can do that. I'm just so excited. I really can't even explain everything that's going on.
"But that's my main goal. To go in there, play hard, and win an ACC Championship."