Syracuse football used to a perennial top-25 program. During that time, a key to their success was recruiting New Jersey very well. When the Orange made a coaching change and hired Greg Robinson, he destroyed the ties the program had to high school coaches in the talent-rich state.
"Yeah I do," Shafer said. "I think it's essential. New Jersey, back when I was a young coach at the University of Rhode Island, the top players were either going to Penn State or Syracuse. You saw a few leave, maybe out to an Iowa. But really, coach Pasqualoni and George DeLeone, they really owned that territory.
"Coach DeLeone, he's a guy that I used to follow around and help me. He used to tell me how to get in and out of the Garden State Parkway. I never knew was a turnabout was until I met him. You go up the road one way, turnaround and there's another high school.
"So you wanted somebody from that area that knew it inside and out," he continued. "Bobby (Acosta) is that type of a guy. Also, from a schematic point of view, he did a great job doing a lot of clinics down in that area. A lot of coaches that he's now recruiting are guys he helped actually implement some offensive schemes throughout his years on the trail as a coach both in the clinic series and also recruiting.
"He has good relationships and it's really refreshing to get phone calls from those guys saying, ‘hey it's really great that Syracuse is back in Jersey. We'll send you guys some good kids.'"
At the forefront of those efforts is new tight ends coach Bobby Acosta who was hired back in February. Coach Acosta has strong ties to the Garden State, having previous stops at schools that were either in the state or used it as a key pipeline in recruiting.
Over the last three months, coach Acosta has been using his ties to help build the Orange back up in the minds of key high schools that regularly produce division one talent. His efforts in that short period of time have caught the attention of Syracuse's head coach.
"I know he's done a good job getting around," Shafer said. "I've had a lot of coaches that have called before we hired him and after we hired him and now that he's on the road recruiting. Saying, ‘hey great hire coach. Bobby knows New Jersey. He knows what type of people come from this part of the country and it's nice to know that there's somebody in Syracuse that understands this part of the country.'
"I've had a couple of calls from people saying, ‘hey Bobby just left. He's doing a great job coach. It was great to have him in our high school.' I think that speaks volumes to what we want to do in that part of the country."