It was a long and drama filled way to get there, but Syracuse got their man on Friday. They landed a big fish as Millburn (N.J.) High defensive end Jake Pickard flipped his commitment from Wisconsin to the Orange.
"Yea just felt right," he said. "We can do great things there and the coaches are not only great coaches that can help me reach and surpass my potential, but also great people. It's a great opportunity to be part of this class because we can truly turn SU football around to the powerhouse they once were.
"We will stop at nothing to be at the top and this class has the attitude and talent to do so."
Pickard, a three-star defensive end, originally chose the Badgers in July. Syracuse was in the final grouping during that decision, and continued to recruit him hard afterwards.
When the Wisconsin coaching staff changed, Pickard reopened his recruitment. The day after the now Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen left the Badgers, Syracuse assistants Bobby Acosta and Chuck Bullough had a positive in-home visit.
A month later, after the dead period, Pickard took an official visit to Central New York to get a better feel for the team. It was his third time on campus.
“They (Syracuse players) were great guys and bonded well and they were a very good group of guys,” Pickard said. “They are really genuine guys and I see myself getting along with them. They are guys like me, with the same interest as me and the same idea of and spending time in college.”
Shorly thereafter, Michigan came in with an offer and an official visit was set up for the weekend of the 23rd. He left campus without committing and Syracuse sent six coaches to his house for another in-home.
”Whenever they come, we don’t even talk about football the whole time,” Pickard said. “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.”
The relationship Pickard had with the Syracuse coaches was the main reason why the Orange continued to stand out. Ultimately it is what led the 6-foot-6 defensive end to choose Syracuse as his future home.
Honored to announce my Commitment to Syracuse University!!???????? pic.twitter.com/dG7BPMiYhJ— Jake Pickard (@JakePickard2015) January 30, 2015
”They (his parents) 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.”
Scout.com's Brian Dohn contributed to this report.