How Syracuse Evaluates Qualification Risks

Every cycle produces talented players who are risks to not qualify academically to play division one football. Syracuse has a plan in place on how to balance talent with academic risk.

In every recruiting class for every school across the country, there are academic qualification risks. Players that are at risk of not making the grade and therefore unable to enroll when originally planned.

In each cycle, school’s have to determine whether or not recruit a player based on where they stand academically. This can be done very early if grades are extremely poor. Syracuse has a specific plan on how they determine whether or not to pursue a talented athlete who may be a qualification risk. The Orange try to find that balance.

”If we don’t think he has a chance, then we’ll tell him he needs to look elsewhere,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “If a kid has a chance and has work to do, then what I want to do is find out who he is as a person. Find out who the support people are in his family. Then if we feel like he’s got the motivation to make it, for all the right reasons, then we’ll go ahead and offer and work up to a commitment and that sort of thing.

”For this year, this past class that we signed, there were probably three of those guys. We feel really good about all three of them and think all three can make it. But the reality is, it’ll still come down to their last semester grades and their last test scores. I think there’s risk and rewards. We just don’t like to have too many of them in a class. This group is an example of the assistant coaches finding out about each kid and really getting to the core of who they are. I feel really good about where we are right now.”

There is more to it than just offering and accepting a commitment from a player who may have work to do academically, however. Syracuse puts plans in place to show a prospect the work they need to do in order to get where they need to be from an academic standpoint.

Part of the recruiting process is not only a school showing interest and staying committed to a player, but the player reciprocating those feelings. In order for the a player who is an academic risk to show a school they are serious about what a commitment means, they have to work hard in the classroom and follow the plan put in place.

”There’s also bars that you set,” Shafer said. “It’s nothing that, as a head coach, you put out there to the media. Let’s say you have a young man and he needs to get three B’s in four classes to be on track. You don’t know that at the end of their junior year. You’re waiting for the grades and you have kids that want to commit and don’t commit. Sometimes you say we’ll let you commit if you get those three B’s. And there’s other instances where you say now you have those three B’s, fall semester you have to get this particular grade point average or else we aren’t going to be able to keep your commitment.

”That’s the reality of it behind the scenes. What we’ve charged out guys with as a recruiting staff was to find out more about the person and his personality and his motivation. We wanted to have kids of like-minded value systems that we feel fit into who we are. The motivation to get it done academically as opposed to just athletically is the key. I think we’re on target. I think we were with this last recruiting class as well as this one moving forward.”


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