When George McDonald took the offensive coordinator job at Syracuse, he came with a reputation as being a strong recruiter. He is able to connect with talented prospect, specifically in the South Florida area. Early in the 2014 cycle, Orange fans were growing concern without tangible results.
Patience proved to be the appropriate course of action, as McDonald starting to reel in the prospects in the fall. It started with three-star quarterback Alin Edouard.
The former Miami commit who received late interest from Florida committed to the Orange without ever stepping foot on campus. His ability to make a connection and make recruits feel at home is uncanny. He forms a father/son type of bond that allows high school kids and their families feel comfortable with the man who will be watching over their child.
"Coach McDonald just is the guy during the whole recruiting process," Edouard said. "He is great at what he does and I know he's great coaching wise. It's been really important that he's always been there. You just have to open your eyes to see who really wants you to join their program.
"Not only to play football but to make your through academics also. Coach McDonald has been that for me."
Two months after Edouard pulled the trigger, McDonald and quarterbacks coach Tim Lester helped Syracuse land three-star cornerback Cordell Hudson. One month after that, another Sunshine State cornerback, Juwan Dowels, chose the Orange. They chose Syracuse over perceived "bigger offers" and those closer to home.
North Miami Beach head coach Jeff Bertani sees the difference in the way McDonald recruits prospects compared to others.
"He's just blunt and honest," Bertani described. "I think too many people pat a kid on the back and tell them how great they are. How they're going to be a superstar wherever they go and whatever they do. Obviously that's not always the case. I think he's just honest. "He says, ‘you're another piece in what we're trying to build' at the places he's been. He says, ‘we like you' and ‘this is what's going to happen.' But I don't think he tries to boost them up or blow their heads up too much. It's just complete honesty with him."
That honesty develops the aforementioned bond. Now, Syracuse is involved with highly touted wide receiver Steve Ishmael who names the Orange as his top school.
"He's been the biggest part for me both recruiting and a friend," Ishmael said. "He is real cool and I would love to play for him. He's been a big factor because he believes in me the most that I've seen yet."
Syracuse is also after Florida prospects Adly Enoicy, Trumaine Washington and Antwan Cordy. Each is visiting this weekend and could commit to the Orange. The fact that each is considering Syracuse is a testament to McDonald's recruiting prowess.
As signing day approaches and Syracuse lands some more talented prospects, it is important to remember how important McDonald is to their recruiting efforts. This could be the best class Syracuse has had in the last decade. Turns out, McDonald's recruiting acumen was worth the wait.