Chris Clark is a huge pickup for Syracuse, literally and figuratively. Yes Clark will help Syracuse on the field. A tight end who runs the type of routes he does, is as physically imposing as he is while being able to use his body to his advantage, catch the football and play physical football is a dynamic weapon for any offense.
Clark fits that mold and will certainly give Syracuse another weapon at their disposal.
But Clark's decision to transfer to Syracuse goes beyond that. His impact off the field may be of greater importance than what he can do on it.
Syracuse football is trying to come out of one of the ugliest eras of any power five school in history when Greg Robinson ran the show. Doug Marrone took over and started the turn around process. But when he bolted for the NFL, defensive coordinator Scott Shafer took the reigns.
The recruiting impact was immediate after Shafer assembled his staff. A group of young, energetic coaches who flat out love to recruit. The quality of the players that were committing to Syracuse was certainly on the rise. That has never been more evident than the contributions they are receiving from Shafer recruits this season.
Still that big time, elite recruit eluded them. One with national name recognition. One that would make people say "woah, he picked Syracuse?" Yes the Orange landed a couple of four star prospects in K.J. Williams and Marquise Blair, but neither had that type of cache.
When Syracuse landed running back Robert Washington, many thought he would be that guy. But he and Syracuse parted ways earlier this fall.
Now Clark has picked the Orange, and has name power that is greater than anything Syracuse has picked up on the recruiting trail since Scout's creation. He is easily the highest rated recruit.
That gives Syracuse legitimacy. It gives the direction of the program legitimacy. It gives the Orange brand legitimacy.
Things were trending that way, no question. The youth movement and efforts of the staff in recruiting have been noted. But adding a player like Clark can help speed up that process. As Syracuse starts recruiting players across the country, and specifically in the Northeast, they can point to Clark as a symbol of the direction they are headed.
When Syracuse brings players from the Northeast on visits, Clark can talk to them and tell them why Syracuse is the best fit. He can tell talented players who have a plethora of college options that coming to Syracuse is about more than just what you can accomplish on the field.
It is one thing for the coaching staff to say it. Another for players to echo those sentiments. But it carries more weight coming from someone like Clark.
If Syracuse is able to get back to a bowl game this season, combined with the Clark news and other strong recruiting they have done in the 2016 class, it only builds their momentum. It helps with 2017 players like four-star defensive tackle Fred Hansard, four-star defensive tackle Romello Martin, four-star defensive end Luiji Vilain, four-star wide receivers Juwan Burgess and Anthony White Jr., four-star linebacker Tyshon Fogg and others.
Players who were already looking at Syracuse, then see Clark's decision, and become even more convinced that the Orange are on the rise.
You have to be careful. You don't want to make this out to be a savior type situation. One where one player is going to "save the program." That said, Clark's addition is a big deal. A huge deal. Yes he rounds out of the offense and makes the unit appear to have playmakers all over the field for the first time in decades.
Clark brings with him cache, legitimacy and brand recognition. It is because of all of that, that Syracuse fans may point to October 15th, 2015 as the day that Syracuse football turned the corner.