While Syracuse is focused on completing their 2014 class, they are still looking ahead to 2015 to try to make early impressions on talented prospects. One of their early targets is Avon (CT) Old Farms tight end Chris Clark. He traveled to Syracuse to take in the campus in its entirety for the first time.
"It was an awesome, awesome day," Clark declared. "I actually got here at nine (in the morning). I actually just left (a little after six in the evening)."
The talented prospect picked up an offer during a camp in June. Despite being on campus, he wasn't able to take in the campus at the time. During this trip, however, Clark was able to get the full feel for the Syracuse program.
"I got there around nine o'clock," Clark explained. "I met with Eric White, the Director of Recruiting. He showed the new lobby that was in the pics I tweeted. It's all brand new. They had all of these mannequins out with all of the gear on them. They were showing me all of that cool stuff. Then I sat down with Coach Shafer.
"We talked for about 45 minutes. He was really just honest. He told me about how he's a family guy. He likes a family atmosphere around the program. He was just really talking about, the football aspect is good, but what I really liked about him is how he was making me feel comfortable. He's a family guy. That was cool."
From there, Clark toured the campus including checking out the facilities. He spent some time speaking with offensive coordinator George McDonald as well as other members of the staff.
"We went to the resource support and academic area where all of the athletes go," Clark described. "I got to sit down and talk with Brady Rourke, he's like the head guy who runs the support. It was nice to get a handle on what they're all about. How they really preach academics. I also got to go to the weight room and meet with Coach Hicks, the strength and conditioning coach. I really liked it a lot. He was really cool. He's a very powerful guy.
"We took a drive out to the Dome. The basketball courts were out but I got a feel for how big it is. It looks like it can get really loud in there. I also got to check out the apartments. Coach Shafer was telling me if you make the grades there are a few kids that they select to stay in these really nice rooms. I got to check those out. They were so, so awesome.
"I also got to talk to Coach McDonald," Clark continued. "We talked for about 45 minutes which was really good. He just told me how they see me as a traditional tight end. Not one of these guys who they move to a tackle or something like that. There aren't too many of those guys out there around the country. Sometimes they recruit guys at tight end but they end up at tackle or they recruit smaller guys. He was saying I could play the Y or the H. I could be a mismatch and really help in the offense."
One of the more interesting parts of the trip came when Clark met his likeness, at least in regards to his name. That being current Syracuse wide receiver Chris Clark.
"It was funny," Clark said with a chuckle. "I was walking in the academic resource place and he just kind of popped out. Everybody was kind of like, ‘hey this is Chris Clark.' I knew who he was from following Syracuse football. So I was just like, ‘hey I'm Chris Clark' and he said ‘I'm Chris Clark.' We kind of just shook hands and laughed about it. It was really cool to finally see him in person."
After seeing what Syracuse has to offer, the 6-foot-6 tight end came away impressed with the Orange. He was high on the program before the trip, but says his interest only improved.
"Overall, with the feel I got from the school, it's really gone up really high with my interest in Syracuse," Clark admitted. "I have really, really strong interest in Syracuse after checking out the school. It's too early right now to think about committing because of all the other schools that could come into play.
"But at the end of the day, I believe Syracuse is going to be right up there at the top when it comes down to my final day to make a decision where I'm going to go. The visit had that strong of an impression on me. I definitely could see myself going there."
As big of an impression as the visit made on Clark, it may have made a bigger one on his family. His parents and sister accompanied Clark on the visit.
"Jamie (Clark's sister) is already talking about how she wants to go to Syracuse because she loved the visit so much," Clark remarked. "Then my parents, they were telling Coach McDonald how this visit made a big impression on them. They really loved the school both athletically and academically."
Clark added that he will be in attendance when Syracuse opens their season against Penn State. Not only that, but it will be as a guest of Syracuse. Despite it being early in the process, the Orange are clearly making Clark one of their biggest priorities in 2015.