Syracuse used to be a force in New Jersey when recruiting football talent. During the end of the Paul Pausqualoni era, that started to slip. It fell even further during the Greg Robinson era. Former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano took full advantage as the Scarlet Knights became one of the go-to programs for Garden State talent.
Fast forward to the 2015 recruiting cycle, and Scott Shafer and the Orange are trying to get back into New Jersey as they focus on their regional recruiting strategy.
"I think for us, you go to where you've had success recruiting in the past," Shafer said. "First we want to try to do a great job at home. What we want to do is be able to win more battles in-state and in New England and in New Jersey and of course in the five boroughs in the city there. We want to try to win more of those battles than we have in the past but also understand that the satellite areas that we've had success recruiting for so many years at so many different institutions, can really add to the talent level on our current roster.
"If we can win at home, we'll stay at home. If we're not winning those battles as much as we want, we know we can go down and find great kids in those other areas that have proven to be productive football players that have graduated and worked out here. So it's a win/win situation. We know the formula, so now we just have to keep working it harder everyday."
While coach Shafer admits the great job that Rutgers did in recruiting their home state in the past, he believes the Orange give prospects an attractive option going forward.
"I thought coach Schiano did a great job recruiting New Jersey and kind of changing the mindset there," Shafer said. "Now as we go in the ACC conference and they're in the Big-10 conference, I think it gives those kids from New Jersey a different feel for what opportunity Syracuse gives them. Not just educationally, but also the opportunity to play up and down the eastern seaboard and to play in arguably the best conference in football right now.
"When you look at what happened in the ACC last year, from an individual awards type outlook, not only just the Heisman Trophy. But when you take all of the awards, the ACC conference won, from an individual perspective of players and coaches and all of those accolades, all of the other conferences combined fell short of what the ACC did. That's not speaking to what the teams did with Florida State winning the national championship and Clemson winning a big BCS bowl game against Ohio State.
"I think those kids from New Jersey can say this is different than the Big East now," he continued. "This is a conference that is really at the top and I could have a chance to play in that conference. There's a lot of games up and down, like I said, the eastern seaboard which is exciting for those families. So many of those kids from New York, Boston and New Jersey have family that have migrated south.
"Those grandparents and aunts and uncles are going to be able to see those kids play in one of the best conferences. I think it's an exciting time. Bringing Joe and Bobby in are a perfect fit for us. Joe has ties to Chicago as one of our secondary areas. We took six kids from that Illinois State last year. Now Bobby making a press not only in New Jersey but in Long Island, I think it's a great thing for Syracuse and for years to come."