Hodge knows where he's headed

Several Syracuse commits were taken back by the Doug Marrone to Buffalo news, but some of the defensive recruits liked the move considering Scott Shafer's promotion from defensive coordinator to head coach. Linebacker commit Marqez Hodge is in that group, and he talks about his recent official visit to SU and the program's Miami connection inside.

Scott Shafer was responsible for sealing the deal on Marqez Hodge's recruitment over the summer, and he got the job done then.

So when Shafer's new job became public knowledge late in the class of 2013 cycle, there weren't many happier than the three-star Syracuse commit.

"I was happy for him," said Hodge. "He's the coach that's going to be able to get the job done."

Unlike a lot of the offensive commits that understandably took a step back as most of the staff joined Doug Marrone in Buffalo, Hodge and some of the defensive pledges stayed put.

"Not really," he added on whether or not he wavered at all since the news came down. "Pittsburgh called...but I wasn't worried about that."

Though a fan of Shafer and his ways, the Miami (Fla.) Central defensive leader was ready for a change of scenery when it came to making a college choice.

"It's something different from Miami," he said of why he's excited to get to Central New York. "The weather is different, the spring snow comes around. I love it.

"I went on my visit last week, January 25, and I was just there looking at it and I knew I was going to like it."

"They're a good football team and a private school," he continued. "So I'll get the education I need."

The linebacker is the latest on a long list, that just got longer with Aaron Batten also committed, of Miami-area players to spend their college years upstate.

"There's a lot of us, probably half the team is Miami guys," he said with a laugh. "It's real cool."

As one would imagine, the chance to play programs like Miami (FL) and Florida State is something many of them look forward to.

"Yea, we're in the ACC now," Hodge added. "You've got to get ahead and get things straight, we're not playing any amateurs. You've got to get it right."

Among that group was another former Central Rocket and current Syracuse sophomore Oliver Vigille, who hosted Hodge on his weekend official visit.

"It was cool, he was talking to me about the classes and stuff," said one linebacker of the other. "He told me how he's been doing up there and how he's been eating good. He's playing hard, training hard and getting coached hard.

"That's what I want."

But the peak of the visit was sitting down with Shafer, with his parents by his side.

"We sat down with my mom and dad," said Hodge. "They like the fact that you can be the best player on the team, but if you don't perform in the class you won't be on the field. I don't like favoritism, so I like Coach Shafer for that.

"I'm going somewhere they're known for their academics."

On the field, Shafer let the the 6-foot, 210-pounder know may be asked to move around though he has a natural home in the middle.

"I'm going to be moving around," he added. "I'll start in the middle but I'll play some outside. All of that..."

In order to be ready for a potential versatile role, there was a lot of work put in and more work to be done.

"What I worked on over the summer was getting better at reading and having an eye for the ball" he said. "I wanted to get stronger, faster and smarter to learn more and more about my position.

"I'm just happy Syracuse wanted a guy like me."

With the official visit over, and a clear destination in site, the linebacker commit is easing into national signing day next Wednesday.

Said Hodge, "I know it's going to be at the school, so I'll be doing my signing there. For the record, I'll be signing with Syracuse."

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