Syracuse wants to take back New York State in 2015, and one way to do that is to grab some of the Empire State's top talent. One of those coveted players is New Rochelle (N.Y.) Iona Prep defensive end Qaadir Sheppard.
Sheppard took an unofficial visit to Syracuse on Sunday, and had nothing but positive things to say about the Orange.
"The visit was great," Sheppard said. "First we went to the athletics center. It was very nice. I met all the coaches. I met coach (Chuck) Bullough and all the other coaches. Then we took a tour of the campus and the campus was really nice. It was beautiful actually. I liked it a lot.
"Then we went and had lunch. But before we had lunch, we went to the Carrier Dome. The Dome was amazing. It was a very nice Dome. Then we went to watch practice."
During practice, Sheppard spent a lot of time watching what could be his potential future position and noted one player that stood out.
"I spent a lot of time watching the d-line," Sheppard said. "I came for the scrimmage first then they went to individual drills. Practice was very intense. The defense was really taking it to the offense.
Picture provided by Qaadir Sheppard
"I watched number 13 (Ron Thompson). He was fast off the ball. He's a real athletic guy. He was playing the same position I would be playing if I went to Syracuse. He looked good."
Sheppard added that defensive line coach Tim Daoust was intense during practice, and even called him a great coach. The two were able to speak one on one during the visit.
"We talked about how I would fit into the defense and what position I would play," Sheppard said. "He said I would play the defense end, the rusher but I would also drop back into coverage.
"He said I can play a lot of positions on the field. He was talking about the defensive scheme."
The Iona Prep standout also spend time speaking with head coach Scott Shafer. He enjoyed the discussion and thought the two bonded a little bit during the visit.
"Coach Shafer was a really nice guy," Sheppard said. "He seems like a really down to earth coach. I liked him a lot."
"My dad, he liked it a lot," Sheppard said. "He liked the campus and he liked the practice too."
The visit was big for Sheppard as he got to see Syracuse in person. The Orange were one of his top choices before the trip, and nothing he saw changed where they stood.
"Syracuse is still one of my top schools," Sheppard said. "I could see myself there."
Sheppard is looking at a summer decision, and will choose between Syracuse, Rutgers, Boston College and Massachusetts as of right now. He added Syracuse, Rutgers and Boston College are in his top three and are all-even.
He plans to visit Maryland's spring game on April 11th, will visit Old Dominion as well. Sheppard also wants to get back up to Syracuse in the summer before his decision.