Flemington (NJ) Hunterdon Central outside linebacker Jason Cabinda became the seventh member of Syracuse's 2014 class on Monday when he made the announcement on Twitter. Cabinda chose the Orange for a variety of reasons. Most important were the family atmosphere and strong academics.
"Out of the teams I was choosing from, they were the most family oriented team," Cabinda explained. "They were showing me the most love and I feel like I'm needed there. I feel like I'll have a chance to get some playing time early. The campus is a lot like my high school, more of a suburban look. I'm not too much of a city person but it's close enough to New York City.
"Academically, the fact that it's in New York helps me out because I want to work on Wall Street one day. Also, I met a lot f supervisors from the business school. They were really kind to me and I love the way the program is set up. It's very individualistic. Students get to take a big role in the curriculum. They get to shape which direction they want to go in. That'll help because I'll be more advanced in the career I want to be in."
Another big factor was Cabinda's relationship with the Syracuse coaches, specifically Clark Lea and Scott Shafer. Combine that with commits staying in contact and Syracuse felt like home to the 6-foot-3 linebacker.
"I have a great relationship with all of the coaches there," Cabinda admitted. "Coach Lea has been writing to me every single day. I'm always getting letters from him. He's so nice to my mom. Coach Shafer has stayed in contact with me. Eric White's been great.
Cabinda's mom joined him during his visit to Upstate New York. A big factor was her comfort level with the campus, especially on the academic side.
"She felt really comfortable with it," Cabinda declared. "Just from being there and seeing everything, her heart was in Syracuse and so was mine. We walked around campus and it was nice. We went to Varsity Pizza to eat with all the coaches. It was just a big family.
"Zaire was there showing me around. It was the first trip where I bought gear at the school. I bought a lanyard and a hat. So my mom was very comfortable with it and that was important to me."
With his commitment announced, Cabinda is now focused on preparing himself for the next level. He knows he has a lot of work to do in order to get his body ready for ACC play.
"I'm starting to get ready now," the Hunterdon Central standout said. "All my lifting isn't just for my senior year. I'm looking towards my freshman year as well. I've always been the kid that wants to play. I've always played early and I don't want that to stop.
"I'm making sure my weight is where it needs to be and I'm running the way I need to be. I'm working on getting the scheme and concepts down so that when I get there I'm not a deer in headlights. I want to play. It's that simple. I want to play. So I'm going to make sure I work my butt off to put myself in that position."
There will be a bit of a transition for Cabinda, who will be moving from offensive to the defensive side of the ball. However, he believes the transition will be smooth as he has some experience playing linebacker.
"When I played Pop-Warner I played linebacker," Cabinda recalled. "Coming up, I played some d-end. I've always been a defensive minded kid. It's just that I happened to be on a team that needed me to play at running back.
"That's the thing is I'm a team player. If you need me at running back I'll play running back. If you need me at linebacker I'll play linebacker. Whatever it takes to help us get wins, I'm going to do it. I've played linebacker before so it's not too foreign to me."
Cabinda also says Syracuse fans can expect a hard worker who will always strive to achieve his goals.
"Off the field, I'm a good kid," Cabinda outlined. "I'm a fun guy to be around. On the field, I'm nasty. I'm there for my boys and I play with a chip on my shoulder. I've always been a hard worker in the weight room, on the field, and running. I always make sure I'm in shape. I've just always had that drive. I always have a goal."