The first player to commit to Syracuse's 2017 class was in-state product Isaiah McDuffie out of Bennett High in Buffalo. There is only one problem with the pledge he made back in July. The staff that he committed to is no longer there.
They were fired after the 2015 season and Dino Babers was hired to turn the program around. Naturally, when there is staff turnover, players who are committed are in a little bit of a precarious situation. Luckily for McDuffie, he was well over a year until his National Signing Day, giving him ample time to figure out his situation.
"It was a confusion situation," McDuffie said. "Now since the smoke has cleared, I feel much better with the situation. I'm lookin gforward to the future and building relationships with the new staff."
Part of the reason he feels better is because the new staff has been in touch and made sure he knows they view him as an important part of their 2017 class. McDuffie said both linebackers coach Tim Kaufman and defensive coordinator Brian Ward have reached out to express just that.
"They wanted to make sure I was still locked in with Syracuse and solidified my commitment," he said. "They really like me because I'm a versatile player on both sides of the ball. They really love my playing style on defense too.
"They said I'll probably be their SAM or nickel type backer because they won't have to switch personnel. I can just stay on the field because I can cover too."
Indeed he can, which is why he was named New York State defensive player of the year. That is why the new staff has made him a priority even though he's committed. Having them reach out to confirm his status was something that meant a lot.
"It was a great feeling," McDuffie said. "I'm looking forward to spending more time with the new staff. Coach Kaufman was great and meeting coach Babers because I'm all about building relationships."
McDuffied added his currently 100% committed to Syracuse and will be on campus for an unofficial visit either 2/20 or 2/27 with 2/20 the more likely choice.