Syracuse wanted to add a running back this cycle, and found their man in three-star Pittsburgh (Penn.) Woodland Hills talent Jo-El Shaw. Shaw announced his decision to commit on Saturday during his official visit.
"I think first and foremost, probably the conference," Shaw's mom, Freeda Brown, said. "He wanted to get into that conference. One other reason would be coach Mike Hart. They really have a close relationship. I even feel like him and I are kind of like friends since it's been so long he's been reaching out and taking time."
Shaw was originally committed to Mike Hart when he was at Western Michigan. When Hart joined the Syracuse staff, Shaw became a priority. He gives Syracuse something they don't currently have on the roster. A power back who can compliment the shifty, quicker backs.
Shaw was originally born in the Utica (N.Y.) area, just a short drive from Syracuse. He still has family there on his father's side, while Brown has family in New York City. Having family in close proximity certainly did not hurt the Orange.
"I like it," Brown said. "He's been away from family so much of his life that it's a good thing he's going to have so much support. He'll definitely be able to stay on track and get his degree."
Brown was checking out the Syracuse campus just like Shaw was to see if it's the right fit. She was also sold on it being the future home for her son.
"I appreciated the tour they took us on," Brown said. "They really went in-depth."
Brown added that she was impressed with the fan base and how they reached out on social media. It really made her and her son feel wanted by Syracuse. In addition, their meeting with the school of architecture went very well. Both were impressed by the academic side of Syracuse.
The next question is, will Shaw still be taking a visit to Pittsburgh?
"He better not," Brown said while laughing.
She added that part of the reason they picked Syracuse is because she did not feel Pittsburgh was the right fit. She said she has been traveling with Shaw to camps and visits since his junior year and is ready for that part of the process to be over.
So what is Syracuse getting in the three-star running back? Scout National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn likes what Shaw brings to the table.
"Shaw is a physical, tough running back who is best running between the tackles," Dohn said. "He gets through the hole well and is difficult to bring down once he gets to the second level. He is already a good blocker in the running and passing game. He needs to improve his acceleration, but he is a big, short yardage back who also has the skill set and toughness to carry the ball 25 times a game."
Shaw is the only true running back committed to Syracuse in the 2016 class, though athletes Moe Neal and Sean Riley may see time in the backfield. The 6-foot-1 back is rated the 9th best running back in the East Region.