Family first

For West Genesee (N.Y.) defenseman, Nick Mellen, Syracuse had the all the amenities when it came to academics and athletics. The junior discusses staying close to home, the recruiting process and more inside.

Junior West Genesee (N.Y.) defenseman and 2015 Syracuse commit, Nick Mellen, has been courted by some big-time lacrosse programs throughout his recruiting process and has included the likes of Cornell, Maryland, Penn State and Loyola.

When the dust settled, though, it was Syracuse that was the last program standing.

"Syracuse ended up trumping all of them basically," Nick said. "The campus is beautiful and I felt a connection with all the coaches. I already know a bunch of players going there. They are all from this area or the Rochester and Long Island areas. Everything just fell into place."

However, like many young prospects, indecision and some confusion was part of the whole ordeal.

"At first, I was unsure because I was really interested in Maryand and Loyola," Mellen said. "But when I started looking into things, I thought, maybe I wanted to stay close to my family."

Nick is one of five children. His oldest brother is currently at Syracuse now studying engineering. He was also the first one to go through the riggers of the recruiting process in his family.

"My dad helped me a lot," he said. "He got recruited by Clarkson to play hockey and was recruited by a bunch of schools. He showed me the path on how to approach the situation when it came to schools and how to talk to coaches. He was the main person that went on visits with me. Other than that, I really didn't have a lot of knowledge on the whole recruiting thing."

Another influential presence in Nick's recruiting journey was none other then legendary high school lacrosse head coach Mike Messere.

"My first school that contacted me was actually Penn State and it came from (coach Messere). He helped me out a ton. He helped forward the emails to me and got me involved early in the process."

"Coach Messere knows everything," he said. "He has taught me everything. Obviously, I have more to learn, but the main thing he has taught me is to stay humble and stay focused on what's really important in life, in college and beyond. He trains his players to focus not only on lacrosse, but the life aspect, too."

For Nick, it's about improving his overall game. However, he points out fine-tuning his off-ball defense and where he is on the field as his top two priorities.

As for strengths, it's apparent when you see the junior on the field. His build is a huge factor when it comes to going up against opponents while his quickness is second to none. As a defender, you're feet are everything when it comes to sliding. He has that.

Nick's pledge to the Orange came during the middle of the summer, when lacrosse camps and travel teams were in full swing.

"I took a visit and went around campus with assistant coach, (Kevin) Donahue. It was my third visit and after that, I committed. I really didn't want to wait. I talked to coach (Lelan) Rogers, coach (John) Desko and coach Donahue. They were all in the office so I went in there and talked with them for about 10 minutes."

With two years remaining at the varsity level, Nick has only one goal on his mind.

"State Championship," he said. "That's the main focus, nothing else."

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