Syracuse landed a linebacker prospect on Saturday in Shyheim Cullen. What are the Orange getting in the 6-foot-1 talent? His head coach at Lowell High in Massachusetts, John Florence, believes the Orange have quite the physical specimen.
"He's got very good size and speed," Florience said. "I think he kind of fits the mold of the type of linebacker they're looking for. He's a little over six feet and he's around 210, 215 (pounds) or so. He has size 14 feet, so I think he has another inch or so to grow."
On the field, Cullen possesses a skill set that suggests he will be successful at the collegiate level.
"He's very fast," Florence said. "He's very explosive. He plays with great pad level. When I first talked to the coaches at Syracuse, they asked how tall he was and I told them a little over six feet. Then they called and said they didn't see that on film. When they met him in person, they realized I was right.
"He has such great knee bend and plays with such great leverage on the field, it makes his height a little bit deceiving. He's got great leg strength and plays low. He's tenacious. Another division one coach said he could see that we do the pursuit drill because everyone runs to the ball. But he's different. It's the way wants to get there and the way he arrives at the ball."
Despite the skills he has in his arsenal, he is far from a finished product. Coach Florence knows that Cullen must work on several aspects of his game to become a complete player.
"Like most high school kids that are dominant, not many kids actually get engaged with him and block him," he said. "In the run game, he will have to work on using his hands and shedding blockers. Then getting better in pass coverage. We don't ask him to do that a ton. We use him more as an aggressive, blitz type kid. Just being more comfortable settling into a zone and seeing receivers crossing. Just general pass coverage."
Off the field, Cullen is a leader who is a pleasure to coach.
"He's great," Florence said. "He's exactly what any coach would want. He's tenacious on the field but the second he steps off the field he's the nicest kid in the world. When you look at him, he's intimidating. But when you actually talk to him he's just a really nice kid. He's great helping out the younger kids. He's very coachable and will do anything you ask of him.
"He's a great, great leader. He's quiet. Part of it is leading by example, but he's one of those kids that when he does say something, everybody listens and he has their attention. He's very humble and works with the incoming freshmen right now and does a great job with it."