SU recruit Mele has come a long way

When Mike Mele was a 5-foot-10, 165-pound high school freshman, he had no reason to be sure that this day – the day he signed a National Letter of Intent to play major Division I college football – would ever arrive.

"I hoped it would," said Mele, one of 26 players to sign LOIs today to play for Syracuse. "But it was a longshot."

It turned out to be anything but. Mele, a 6-1, 220-pound linebacker from Manasquan, New Jersey, was courted by a bevy of big-time programs before committing to SU last June. Boston College, Virginia and Michigan State were among his finalists, while Minnesota and Wisconsin courted him as a running back.

Mele, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and recorded 105 tackles and five sacks on defense, made it official this afternoon at a signing day ceremony along with 13 college-bound teammates – three of whom will also be playing Division I football.

"It was a big relief to finally sign and know where I'll be next year," he said.

Mele, rated as a two-star prospect by, could turn out to be one of the sleepers of SU's class. He has good size and runs a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, and moves well from sideline to sideline. He'll head off to Syracuse, which is 4.5 hours from home, in July and begin summer school.

Until then, he said, "I'm just going to run and lift a lot and try to get everything done in terms of school."

Proximity to home was among the top reasons he chose Syracuse, said Mele, whose father played football at Rutgers. But he also sees a lot of potential in the program.

"There are a lot of young kids in the program and Coach Robinson is in, what, his third year?" he said. "It's just going to be a matter of chemistry and everyone meshing together."

Mele could play either the weakside or middle linebacker spot, but has no preference.

"It's doesn't really matter. They're both pretty similar," he said. "I just want to get on the field and work as hard as I can."

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