Syracuse has made it a major recruiting focus to get back into New Jersey. The state is routinely one of the most talent filled in the country and is perhaps the closes recruiting hotbed to the campus. They have been successful there historically, and have made strides in the 2015 class with two of the most talented players in the state pledging Orange.
Former Syracuse safety Keeon Walker, who is also a current assistant coach at Union City High School, sees positive things from Syracuse recruiting his home state.
”Of course they’re making a name for themselves again,” Walker said. “You’re always going to be in competition with the Penn States and programs like since they’ve gotten back on board. That’s the competition, so winning changes everything. When you start winning, it makes kids say, ‘maybe I do want to go Syracuse. Maybe I do want to be a part of what’s going on over there.’ It’s important to be successful in Jersey. If you’re winning battles against Rutgers and other programs in recruiting, you’re going to have a pretty successful program.
”Winning is the ultimate. If you’re winning, then kids are willing to come. When McNabb was there, it helped winning those three Big East championships in a row. Going to BCS Bowl Games. Kids want to do that. Kids have dreams of doing that. If they can keep winning games and then win some battles against Penn State and Rutgers, then that’s how successful the program is going to be. It’ll be on its way up again.”
While Walker has an obvious connection to the program, he says he will not push any of his players towards Syracuse. He will, however, assist in setting up unofficial visits for those prospects that want to see the campus as well as inform interested players about his experience as a player.
”I never try to get a kid to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go,” Walker said. “All I can do is tell them my experience. This is what happened to me at Syracuse. I know Syracuse is a great school. They have a great football program and are great academically. Then I can tell them about my experiences. If they decide that they want to take a visit up there, I’d love to drive them up there any chance I get because I’ve still go friends up there.
”I take them up and we go see the school. During the spring game, I took three kids up there (Daiquan Kelly, Nawell Rojas, Jonathan Castellano) that I coach. They loved it. All three of them wanted to commit. They told the coach that if they offered all three of them, they would all commit right there. They didn’t have three offers for them at that time or period, but they were ready to commit.
”With these kids, even when I was being recruited, the number one thing I thought about was ‘can my mom come see me play?,’” he continued. “’Can my friends and family come see me play?’ With Syracuse being three and a half hours away, they love having that option. If they went somewhere else, maybe their parents can’t come up every weekend or every other weekend. For me, that was the major reason why I went there. I know for a lot of kids in the area, that’s really big.”