Four-star Cheshire (Conn.) Academy athlete C.J. Holmes is one of the top players in the Northeast in the 2017 class. Syracuse reaffirmed their offer within the last few weeks and are quickly making Holmes a big priority. He visited the Orange on Saturday and enjoyed his time on campus.
"First when I walked in, we all went into the auditorium and they introduced all the coaches," Holmes said. "They had a nice little presentation for the head coach, which I really liked. It brought a sense of intensity to the day. I was able to talk with the running back coach, Mike Hart, and I was able to talk to the head coach.
"Both conversations were very similar. Both emphasized coming in early as a freshman and just taking care of your business in the classroom, on the field and off the field, which I greatly appreciated because obviously education is first. They expressed the importance of being able to keep your priorities straight."
Holmes spent a lot of time with running backs coach Mike Hart. The two were able to bond and get to know each other on a more personal level. They even had a friendly game of Madden during the visit, and there may be a rematch brewing for the next time Holmes is on campus.
"He's a great guy," he said. "Really cool, really down to earth. He's got that young aspect to him so it's easy to relate to him. In the future, if I were to go to school at Syracuse, I could see myself having a real close relationship with him.
"A Madden game may or may not have taken place and I may or may not have lost. You can't win them all. It was an admirable game. A hard fought battle."
Holmes said he was the Pittsburgh Steelers while coach Hart played as the Cincinnati Bengals. Hart, apparently scored with two seconds left in the game to pull out the victory.
"Totally ridiculous," Holmes said.
One of the standout moments for Holmes was checking out the Syracuse basketball game against NC State. Having been in the Carrier Dome for a football game, this provided an interesting comparison for the talented athlete.
"I was really excited to go to the basketball game because I had only been to a football game," Holmes said. "The atmosphere is a little different, obviously, because it's not the full stadium. But I think the enclosed design of how the basketball gym is set up is really interesting. I think it brings a uniqueness to the Carrier Dome.
"It was probably my favorite part of the visit overall because I got to see the campus' energy and the student body and things like that."
Touring the facilities was also a highlight for Holmes. He thinks Syracuse has facilities that are on par with the best in the region.
"The indoor facility is beautiful," Holmes said. "It's brand new. It's top of the line. I don't know about most schools in the Northeast that have both an indoor facility and an outdoor facility. Thing is they still have two because they still have that old field that is part of the football building. It's great."
Holmes says he is now more interested in Syracuse than he was before the visit and is excited about returning in the future. He is not sure if he will be able to make the April 2nd spring game, but did not rule out the possibility. Regardless, the Orange made an impression and are poised to be involved going forward.
"Everything I saw and everything I heard was something that I feel like I'm on board with," Holmes said. "I like the direction that the program is going in. The coaches have great energy and great enthusiasm. They seem like a bunch of guys with a great vision and direction.
"I'm really just looking for them to succeed this year in the ACC conference that they're in. Just try to make a push to become one of those powerhouse, factory generating schools again."