Growing up in a bad area of Hillside (NJ), Jamar McGloster had "seen things," as he put it, that children shouldn't see. Crime, drug use, and gangs were prevalent and visible. Yet somehow, McGloster persevered through those conditions, using sports as an escape.
As he looked to enter high school, McGloster decided to attend St. Anthony's to play basketball. Two years in, he was losing his love for the game. On a whim, he decided to try out for the football team as a junior. McGloster surprised everyone by making the team.
During his junior year, McGloster suffered an injury that ended his season. As he puts it, that injury soured the relationship with his head football coach. During his senior season, despite recovering from his injury, he barely played. He wasn't promoted by his coach, and therefore was not recruited.
There was no plan for college. McGloster was without a home, and unsure of his future. Then, on a random day in the spring, McGloster was walking down the hallway between classes when an encounter changed everything.
"Coming out of high school, I really didn't have anybody," McGloster explained. "It was kind of a strange situation. I really wasn't going anywhere. One day I was walking down the hallway and Coach (Pat) Perles came in. He called me over and introduced himself. He talked to my coach and they had a long conversation.
"He asked where I was going to school and I didn't have a school. He told my coach that he was going to try to change that. Next thing you know, I have a full scholarship to go to Syracuse. He changed my life."
From there, McGloster stayed in contact with Syracuse. A visit to the Orange campus was set up for the weekend of June 21st. The trip sold the 6-foot-7 tackle on Syracuse.
"The facilities were great," McGloster admitted. "Where I come from, the weight room is a little storage closet. So seeing the weight room was crazy. Seeing the Carrier Dome was an amazing experience. Just the campus itself, I feel like it's a great fit for me. The die hard fans, everything about it."
His mind was made. Syracuse was the place where McGloster would have opportunities of which he had only dreamed. When his decision was made, there was jubilation. Suddenly the bad neighborhood, athletic struggles, and other life hardships seemed worth it.
Now, there was simply jubilation all around.
"The reaction from the Syracuse coaches, they were honored to have my commitment," McGloster recalled. "They said I have a story to tell and a future. They were proud to have me. Coach Perles had been constantly on the head coach about getting me an offer. I thank him for that. He's my savior. My family, my mom and my grandma started crying. My dad was proud. My family was just ecstatic about the whole situation.
"I tell everybody, I can't even put it into words how I feel about getting this scholarship offer. I came from going nowhere to having a place where I can call my second home. It's an amazing feeling how just one day walking through the hallway can change my life."
McGloster is set to arrive on campus as early as this coming weekend. He says if that doesn't work out, he will be on the hill on August 1st. The plan is to redshirt during his freshman season.
Still largely unknown, the big tackle says Orange fans can expect a hard worker on and off the field.
"Syracuse is getting a hard working young man," McGloster described. "Of course I'm going to hit the books so I can stay on the field. I'm 6-foot-7, 294 (pounds) offensive tackle. You're going to see me out there blocking for their quarterback. I'm going to make some noise."