Jake Pickard is the top player left on Syracuse’s board. The Orange were in prime position to flip the Wisconsin pledge after putting on a full-court press after the Badgers had a coaching staff change. That was somewhat complicated with another Big-10 school offering on Wednesday in Michigan.
Still, Syracuse continues to pursue the three-star defensive end. They sent two coaches, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and tight ends coach Bobby Acosta, to his New Jersey home on Thursday to continue that pursuit.
”It was a very good visit,” Pickard said. “Whenever they come, we don’t even talk about football the whole time. We were talking about life and chilling. We were just talking for an hour or two I’d say. Just hanging out. That’s normally how it is with them. They’re really good dudes. We hung out, got some food and just talked.
”We did talk some football. They said they have two or three spots left and they obviously want me real bad. They know I’m visiting Michigan this weekend and they’re going to let me do that. But just stay in touch and how bad they want me and how big of a piece to the puzzle I am to them.”
The attention and continued pursuit by Syracuse is something that has caught Pickard’s eye. He has developed a strong bond with the Orange coaching staff as a result and has noticed how big of a priority he is in this class.
”It really means a lot,” Pickard said. “At the end of the day, everything is just business. There’s a lot of lies going on in recruiting I guess. It just goes to show that they’re telling the truth. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be sending two or three coaches over to my house every week.”
Maybe as important are the opinions of Pickard’s parents, both of whom have also developed a trust with the Syracuse coaches.
”They love them,” Pickard said. “We all do. The first couple of times they came over it was football talk. But normally when they come over it’s just hanging out just like normal people because we’re just so close to them at this point. It’s just like friends coming over for lunch or dinner.”
The Michigan offer has given Pickard more to think about, however. He is taking an official visit this weekend in order to see if the Wolverines are the right fit.
”They’re actually pretty high,” Pickard said. “Coach Harbaugh is developing a great staff. He’ll definitely be able to win championships at a place like Michigan. I’m actually excited to get out there because that was the first place I camped at. The original place I wanted to go when this whole thing started in my sophomore year.”
With less than two weeks until national signing day, Pickard and Michigan have a small window to develop a strong enough relationship that leaves the three-star defensive end comfortable enough to make Ann Arbor his future home.
”I’ll be out there all weekend,” Pickard said. “They’ll come back to visit again and stay in constant contact with instant messaging. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out because I really have this weekend and then another week and a half and game’s over.”