Former Orange safety Keeon Walker has the distinction of being on the last team that Paul Pasqualoni ever coached at Syracuse. Since then, the program has been through a few different transition periods.
”I think the direction it’s going in, it’s going in the right direction from where it was in previous years,” Walker said. “We had some down years, especially after Coach P left. Whenever you have somebody leave, you’re always going to have that transition when the new head coach comes in. He needs to recruit the types of players that he feels will fit his system. Then you have Doug Marrone there who started to pick it up. Then he ended up leaving.
”Now coach Shafer, I met him during the spring game, I had a few guys that I brought up there during the spring game. One of my guys actually committed (Daiquan Kelly). I think they’re going in the right direction. It’s going to take a few years especially with a new coach. Like I said, he’s going to want to bring in those guys that will fit his system and his style of play. So it’s going to take a few years. But I think he’s doing an excellent job. He’s in a competitive conference. Anytime you can be top three or top four in that conference, you’re doing an excellent job.”
Walker follows the program as most fans do, watching every game in which he is able and hoping for Orange victories. He plans on getting up to the Central New York campus this season to watch some games in person.
”I plan on definitely being up there this year to a game or two,” Walker said. “I expect them to be competitive. They’re always competitive. I don’t see why they can’t finish, once again, in the top three or top four in the conference. I expect them to be competitive with Florida State.
”Maybe a little more competitive than they were last year against a team like Clemson. They’ve still got a lot to prove, especially in the conference. I don’t expect nothing else than to be Syracuse and be out there competing. Pull off some big wins like we did in the past.”
Head coach Scott Shafer said the team’s goal is eight wins. Some thought that was too lofty a goal for his second season leading the Orange. Walker, however, thinks it’s right on point with where the program is at this stage.
”I think it’s definitely reasonable,” Walker said. “They finished last season with six or seven wins. Eight wins is definitely reasonable. Definitely.”