An eventful last several days for Syracuse added some more fireworks on Sunday as Lawrenceville (Ga.) Mountain View High defensive back Kielan Whitner flipped his commitment from Appalachian State to Syracuse. Whitner was offered last week and scheduled an official visit shortly thereafter. When his plane landed back in Georgia, he made the decision.
"It was just the step up in the football programs," Whitner said. "Going from a small Sun Belt school to an ACC school was big. I wanted to take the visit to check everything out and I felt like it was the right fit for me. The academic side with the Whitman School will give me a great degree that will be with me for the rest of my life.
"It was a really hard decision but I think Syracuse is best place for me."
During the visit, a key factor was getting to know the Syracuse coaches. The two-star defensive back was able to do that in a short amount of time, making him feel more comfortable with the Orange.
"They were great," Whitner said. "They made me feel at home and I liked talking to all of them. It had a family feel to it and that meant a lot. It was great talking to them on the visit."
Another key aspect was speaking with fellow Georgia native Jonathan Thomas, someone Whiter knew from playing against him in high school. The two spoke about what it's like being at Syracuse, which helped Whitner with his final decision.
"He answered all of my questions about the concerns I had," he said. "I was worried about the distance from home and things like that, but he told me family will always be there to visit and talk on the phone and stuff. He said he hasn't been home sick at all and that Syracuse is a great place to be. He just aleviated any concerns I had and that helped me with everything."
Whitner added that Syracuse is bring him in as a defensive back who can play both the free and strong safety position. They think his long arms and ball skills will be a great fit within their defensive system.
The addition of Whitner puts Syracuse at 26 members of the 2015 class. It includes four defensive backs with Whitner joining four-star Marquise Blair and three-star prospects Christopher Fredrick and Daivon Ellison. Cornerback Lamar Dawson, originally a member of the 2015 class before dealing with a rare illness, is expected to arrive this summer.
Whitner also had offers from Air Force, Army, Georgia State, Harvard, Marshall, Troy, Yale and others.