‘My heart resides in Syracuse’

Syracuse hosted several big name prospects over the weekend, in football and basketball, but one commitment was making his return to Central New York for his first game experience. Three-star senior Shyheim Cullen details his time back in town and much more inside.

The dynamic from Friday to Saturday was an interesting one, full of some football ups and downs, for Shyheim Cullen.

The three-star Lowell (Mass.) two-way standout, projected to play linebacker at Syracuse, saw his team take a loss against its arch rival on Friday night with an injury before heading to Central New York to see SU battle top-ranked Florida State -- his first game at the Carrier Dome.

It’s safe to say that the weekend got better as time progressed.

“It was actually really awesome,” Cullen said of his time in Syracuse. “It was definitely a great experience to get up there and see my first experience of a game situation, especially against the number one team in the nation.

“The big difference (compared to past unofficial trips) was the atmosphere, to actually be a part of it was a great feeling. The best part of the trip was being on that field with the players, standing next to the meeting rooms and knowing that I’m going to be there next year.”

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Cullen traveled to town with his mother, stepfather and younger brother. The entire group is getting a bit more used to the campus and surrounding area.

“They loved it, it was a great experience for them,“ he said. “They can’t wait to get to come up there more next season. My step dad has been a big Syracuse fan, it’s pretty funny. It’s almost like he’s alumni.”

The positive vibe from Cullen’s family had a lot to do with the coaches checking in with him while he was on the Hill.

They relayed several messages after the game, as the senior had his eyes on the position one would think during the Orange's 38-20 loss.

Cullen has been committed to SU since June.

“I got to talk to the coaches, and that was great as well. Seeing Coach Lea, Coach Bullough…They feel confident that I’ll be there, they talked about doing everything I can to be successful,” he said. “I was watching the linebacker corps, or course, Cam Lynch and them. I see myself at the weak (linebacker) position, so a Dyshawn Davis type. I see myself as a player like him. Talking with Coach Lea, he definitely expects me to be that type of weak-side guy. He said further along, the next year, he wants me to play all three positions. I feel like I can, I’m definitely confident in myself.

“I’ve played all three in high school, and I know it’s different in college, but I’m confident that I can play all three positions.”

Cullen admitted that the entire trip was one he was looking forward to for some time, but the time on campus actually exceeded his expectations.

“I expected a lot from the visit, and it was more,” he said. “Like the crowd and the exposure to the game-like situations, it definitely was more than what I was expecting. It reached beyond it, it was pretty cool.

“I was very impressed with Syracuse, especially with them going against the number one team in the nation and Jameis Winston.”

The only potential negative, other than the Orange falling on the scoreboard, was navigating several venues on crutches. A turf toe diagnosis was a result of his exploits as Lowell High's running back on Friday.

”It was the game of the year in the state, I was running the ball and my foot got stuck in the ground,” he said. “I was going forward and my foot stayed on the ground, and my toe bent in half. I have to be on crutches for five days and then I’ll be back. I’ll probably be fine by Friday.”

The coaching staff was more concerned with Cullen’s injury as opposed to his continued recruitment despite being among the 2015 commitments. Purdue continues to stay in touch, but there are only plans to visit Syracuse going forward. It will be an official visit, alongside fellow commitments and several targets, on the weekend of January 23.

CuseNation.com asked about his status with the Orange at this point and time…

“My heart resides in Syracuse,” Cullen said.

CuseNation speaks to Shy Cullen (audio below)

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